My cousin Tom came into town last weekend for far too brief a time. (COME BAAAAAAAAAAAAACK.)
Tom has lots of sisters and we were celebrating two of them with a high school graduation and a Sweet 16 party.
My boyfriend is from the South and had never attended a Sweet 16 party before and was very excited and I have to say, Tom’s sister’s party didn’t quite live up to expectations because unfortunately, Tom’s family isn’t quite trashy enough to throw a really elaborate wedding-esque Sweet 16. Nobody wore a ballgown. There wasn’t even a candle ceremony. I mean, thanks for nothing you guys, now my boyfriend thinks I’m a liar.
Tom’s flight was delayed on the way in due to the outrageous thunderstorms happening in NYC the very minute he was due to land and also maybe there was a fire in an air traffic control tower? (I have not verified this.) So Tom’s flight circled for awhile and then landed in the Rochester airport where he stayed for five hours drinking Labatt Blue which is the beer we used to drink in college in Buffalo HOLLA UPSTATE NEW YORK.
We partied until Tom showed up (at 10:30 PM). He ate a huge plate of eggplant parmesan, danced to Beyoncé and then we all packed up and went home.
The next morning, for some reason (my brother, who runs marathons) we decided to go kayaking.
I feel like I’m one of those people who always gets excited by the IDEA of things and then once I actually do them, if I find it difficult, I just give up.
Is that the worst quality in a person!?!?!?
It’s because I want to be the bestest at everything.
Now, I don’t know if you know this about me but I don’t have a lot of upper body strength. This is a thing for most women in general except Madonna so I don’t feel too badly about this.
So my brother Paul, sister Deb, boyfriend Awesome Sauce and Tom and I went kayaking on Saturday morning.
Paul asked if we wanted single kayaks or tandem.
“Ooooooo!” I marveled to my boyfriend. “LET’S GO TANDEM! LET’S KAYAK TOGETHER! IT’S SO ROMANTIC!!!”
My boyfriend thought about it for half a second and very seriously said, “I don’t want to share a kayak with you.”
“DID WE JUST BREAK UP!?” I wondered.
I decided then that Tom and I would share a kayak.
“TOM! LET’S SHARE A KAYAK!”
“OOOO YES!” said Tom. “THAT IS THE BEST EVER!”
My boyfriend thought about this for half a second and very seriously said, “That is not a good idea.”
Now, to be fair, in case my boyfriend sounds heartless, a tandem kayak is apparently a lot harder to control. And since Tom and I do not, um, kayak??? on a regular basis, it probably was not a good idea for both of us to be in the same one.
Still, we protested.
“WE CAN TOTALLY DO IT,” I said, lying.
“WE ARE VERY ATHLETIC,” Tom said, lying.
“I’m not worried about your athletic ability,” my boyfriend said. “I’m worried about your collective attention span.”
Tom and I just looked at each other and silently agreed that he had a point.
We would probably concentrate on rowing together for about half a second and then one of us would probably shout LOOK AT THAT SHINY THING and the other one would say THAT REMINDS ME OF A BROADWAY SHOW and then the boat would tip over and we would drown.
So, you win this time, boyfriend. You win.
Single kayaks for all.
I started off okay. Paul who runs marathons and Deb who kind of has amazing Madonna arms and my boyfriend who is just sort of so strong that it MAKES ME ANGRY took off ahead of me and Tom. So we were kind of split up from the beginning. But whatever, Tom and I had lots to catch up on! Moonrise Kingdom and how great a movie it is! People we know from college! That one thing we’re thinking about doing sometime!!!
My boyfriend was right in that every few minutes we would kind of absently forget we were IN A BOAT ROWING ON THE WATER and our kayaks would just smash into each other because, you know, you have to, sort of, watch where you’re going.
I also want to point out that this entire time I was wearing a Little Bo Peep hat. A straw hat with a damn WHITE RIBBON flowing off the back that my mom had hung on one of the closet doors in the house on a nail, as decoration. (Because that is one of many adorable things my mom does so everyone knows it’s summer. DECORATIVE HATS ON NAILS!!! My mom is really into the seasons.)
So we’re rowing along and talking about things and then I realize that rowing a kayak is kind of…tiring? And no one has suggested we turn around yet and is this going to be a problem because ow my shoulders and my boyfriend says I’m not using my core properly and it’s like I WOULD USE THAT IF I KNEW WHAT IT WAS.
Um. I maybe…gave up? In this moment?
As in, I just sat in my kayak on the water and rested the paddle across my body and just…waited?
I think I was hoping that somehow the kayak would move itself.
And it would occasionally drift a bit, especially when a boat went by. (BECAUSE WE WERE KAYAKING IN A HARBOR AND BOATS WERE ALL AROUND AND NEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR WHEREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVER YOU ARE!!!) But I really wasn’t going anywhere. Because…you have to PROPEL YOURSELF, which is the point of kayaking, I imagine.
So I would kind of talk myself into it and get a good row going and try to use my core but OH MY MUSCLES WERE BURNING EVERYWHEREEEEEEEE. Then I would stop and rest and blink a few times. Then I would start again.
Tom tried to distract me from my upper arm pain by singing songs.
“LET’S SING TO PASS THE TIME!” he suggested.
(Which makes you think that we were doing something awful because when I need to ‘sing to pass the time’, I am wishing something horrendous will soon be over – riding to the 39th floor in a crowded elevator, for example.) I mean, doesn’t ‘kayak in the harbor’ sound beautiful and relaxing? It does! Until you do it for an hour and then it becomes physically painful and you actually need to PASS THE TIME so it will be OVER SOON AHHHHHHHHHHHH.)
My brother Paul later said that every now and then he would hear something in the distance and think “What the…?” and it was me and Tom, singing a Whitney Houston duet.
I mean, I do what I need to do, you know?
I became irrationally angry with myself about kayaking. I was angry that it wasn’t easy for me. I was angry that my muscles were hurting. I was angry that once again I was the whiny 8 year old who wanted to go home from trick or treating because it was drizzling a little bit of rain and I was cold. (THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. WHAT KID GIVES UP FREE CANDY TO GO BACK INSIDE AND WATCH THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW WITH HER DAD? THIS KID!!!)
Ah. I guess there’s part of us that never changes, amirite?
I wanted to like kayaking so much. I figured we had barely gone any distance and yet it FELT SO LONG!!! And no one else seemed tired!? HOW COULD THAT BE? (I wasn’t using my core properly. BUT STILL!)
But I made it back to shore, thanks to Whitney Houston and my sister screaming YOU CAN DO IT LAURA!!!! And here is where I leave you with words of inspiration, like how kayaking changed my life in some way, how a kayak is a metaphor for life because sometimes you row straight and sometimes you row in a circle and…
Actually I pretty much decided when it was over that I suck at everything considering we kayaked barely anywhere and I couldn’t do it without wanting to cry.
A few hours after we got home, I got a text from my brother Paul, who runs marathons.
“I Google mapped our kayaking route! We went nearly 4 miles!”
I guess I don’t suck at everything.
I just suck at kayaking four miles and you know what?
I AM TOTALLY FINE WITH THAT.