Well it’s January 4th and like most people, I love a new year! In fact, I love it so much that at around 8:30 on New Year’s Eve, while everyone around me was getting lost in their slurred declarations of non-life changing silliness, I was thinking about what I can do to bring in the New Year. I wanted to do something special.
Clearly my bar stool had high hopes for me.
“I know! I’ll send everyone a Moxie-Dude calendar!!!”
Which in theory is a great idea (or at least it was after my third vodka-cranberry) but by about 2 o’clock the next afternoon, on New Year’s Day, that great idea was replaced with reality: I don’t have a Moxie-Dude calendar. Bummer.
I can’t say that I’m 100% positive but I’m pretty sure that that was the thought that triggered a sense of “oh-my-god-I’m-NOTHING!!!”
It’s 2012 – the farthest I’ve ever gotten in my future – and what have I accomplished? NOTHING. Not even a calendar!
Then I started thinking about how I handled a non-shark attack just last year. Now I realize a non-shark attack (as in, a shark attack where no shark was actually present) doesn’t sound like much but when you can feel your heart throb in your throat and you suddenly become a faster, stronger paddler than any Olympic athlete, it’s a big deal.
Let me take you back to the scene of the, er, time . . .
It was November 2011, we were in Florida and Greg had the great idea that we should go kayaking. In the ocean.
Confession: I’m afraid of the ocean.
And when I say “afraid” I’m not talking about the “I’ve-got-it-all-under-control-as-long-as-I-choose-NOT-to-go-near-it” kind.
Nope. Simply watching a movie about someone else swimming in the ocean can trigger heart-palpitating anxiety attacks.
Which proves my theory: I was eaten by a shark in another life. (Funny how comments like that lose their validity when spoken out loud.)
Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy kayaking. Which is why I let Greg coerce me onto a piece of molded plastic to set adrift into the mouth of death.
But let’s get real here. I enjoy kayaking IN RIVERS. IN LAKES. Where finned ogres that travel to the opus of their own unpredictable appetites don’t exist.
So while Greg was busy gathering everything we could possibly need for our trip, I was busy following him around telling him about every shark story crammed in my memory.
“Are you even listening to me?” I asked.
“There aren’t any sharks,” he answered, without even trying to appease me. (A sure sign that the honeymoon is over.)
“Greg. We’re going into the OCEAN. Where SHARKS LIVE,” I argued.
Of course that bit of logic just pushed him over the edge. He chose to ignore me.
The next thing I knew, quiet Greg and disgruntled me were sitting on a bright orange kayak. The colour of old blood.
At first I was paralyzed. I couldn’t paddle and could barely breathe for fear of tipping my false sense of security, also known as our kayak. Stiff as a tree on a windless day, I just sat there longing to be where the smart people were. On land.
What felt like hours later, I heard Greg whisper my name. I didn’t turn around. I couldn’t. I was paralyzed with fear that was triggered by a “knowing”. I knew that he wanted to tell me about the school of hungry sharks surrounding us. It had happened. Every single shark that exists on this planet had smelled my fear. A vein in my head was pounding to the theme from Jaws.
While my eyes were closed in silent prayer (“Please God. Please don’t let us die this way.”), Greg took it upon himself to turn our kayak around so that I could face my fear. With a deep breath I opened my eyes. But not out of courage. More out of I couldn’t stand the bloody visions that were playing on the inside of my eyeballs. I actually remember cursing Steven Spielberg at that point.
And there they were. Less than 20 feet away, three curved-finned creatures playing like ruckusing teenagers.
Slippery, grey skin. Strong, meaty tails. Smiling mouths. I just watched in awe.
Then another kayaker happily yelled out a whisper that brought me back to reality:
“It must be feeding time!”
That little comment – as innocent as it may have been intended – set off an alarm in my logic. If it’s feeding time for dolphins, it must be feeding time for other ocean creatures too! And when I say “other ocean creatures”, you know what I’m talking about.
That’s when I went into turbo-paddle mode.
“Wow, you’re a strong paddler!” I remember Greg saying from the outskirts of my focus.
I had one thing in mind and one thing only: shore.
While getting to shore took just about forever, when we finally did make it I was happy for the experience (right after I told Greg that I would never get into another kayak).
But that was Saturday. Sunday morning I woke up wanting to do it again. And we did.
So you see? I may not have a calendar but I can go kayaking in the ocean.