2009, the year my marriage went up in smoke, was the first time I tried kayaking. For that matter, 2009 was the year I tried a lot of new things. I was hungry for distractions and salve for my wounds.
After paddling the Elk River with friends, I wanted to run out and buy a kayak right then and there. But there was the issue of how I could possibly lift and load a kayak by myself and where I would store a kayak, since I didn’t even know where I was going to be living. I dropped the kayak idea and focused on handling everything that was changing in my life.
But not being able to get a kayak right away didn’t stop me from imagining myself paddling down a narrow river, or gliding along the shore of a lake in the early morning, when the water is as still as glass and the quiet is only broken by the splash of a fish jumping or the soul searching sound of a loon.
Someday, I thought…
A year later, Steve and I tried out several kayaks at Lebanon Hills Regional Park, where Midwest Mountaineer was having a kayak ‘try before you buy’ session. I fell in love with the ease of paddling and the stability of a Venture Easky 13. But the Easky was pricey, and I still needed to prepare for our house selling and having to move somewhere else.
“Not yet,” I told myself.
When I was on Madeline Island last month, I saw the Apostle Islands kayaking brochures. As I looked at the cover photo of smiling people exploring sea caves, I pictured my body leaning low to enter a rocky opening, my paddle cutting the water and the sound echoing off the sandstone walls.
Someday, I thought…
Unexpectedly, someday arrived, as somedays often do. An email came from Midwest Mountaineering showed that the kayak I’d been dreaming of was on sale! The price of everything I would need to kayak was still a stretch, but I justified the expense by telling myself that it was cheaper than the home on the river I had wanted or the cabin on a lake that I wished I had. A kayak was a doable way to grab a chunk of the water world that I longed for.
I’ve been out with Xena twice in the two weeks that I’ve owned her. Every boat has to have a name doesn’t it?
I’m glad I waited to see if kayaking was something I lusted after on impulse or wanted to do long term. I’m glad I waited to get to know myself better.
I’ve been putting a tentative toe into many things, getting to know what I like, versus what I like in order to be liked. I feel a little bit like Goldilocks, only instead of looking for the porridge or bed that is “just right,” I’ve been looking for the just right life.
It’s taken me a long time to finally give myself permission to love what I love and to believe that what I like is okay, even if someone else tells me it’s strange, or asks me the kind of question that I was asked when I was showing friends a photo of my kayak.
“Do you even have time to kayak?” I was asked.
The question could have been like a bucket of cold water dumped on my steamy enthusiasm. But not anymore. I’m done with that.
“Are you kidding me?” I said. “I don’t have enough time NOT to kayak.”