Sunday, August 30, 2009

Messing About on the Water

I don't like doing things which cause me discomfort, pain, fear or embarrassment. I have never bungee-jumped or swung upside down from a rope swing. I stay away from zip-lines and ropes courses and until I was 41 I had managed to avoid roller coasters. My one and only (thus far) roller coaster ride was at Busch Gardens, when Beth persuaded me to ride The Loch Ness Monster with her. I was sort of OK while we strapped ourselves in. I was moderately fine as we rode the initial slow and steady almost vertical climb to the first peak. I think I even managed to smile reassuringly at Beth as she squeezed my hand and asked if I was alright.
But then we reached the top of that first peak and what goes up must come down. I have never traveled so fast in such a short space of time. I began to scream, and didn't stop. I don't think I opened my eyes much at all. I was aware at one point of hearing an endless screech as we raced at death defying speed up and down and round the loop and back and forth and over and up again ... and I opened my eyes to discover that we were not upside down as my brain had been telling me, but in fact on a straight and fairly slow stretch of rail. Beth was looking at me, murmuring "Mum!" in that "you're embarrassing me" voice that kids develop when they reach 8. And the people in the car in front had turned in their seats and were staring at me. So I grinned sheepishly (a terrified sheep, way up in the air, far far from home) and closed my mouth on the scream. But then we were off again, up, down, side to side, eyes closed it all blurred into the one horrifying "I'm gonna DIE" moment. And then it was over. I had done it.

I feel sort of the same way about water based activities. Give me a boat and I need to make sure it will stay upright with minimal rocking. I can cope with a canoe or a kayak but only on calm flat water. I don't like jet-skis (all that power and speed ... scary) I wouldn't dream of water ski-ing ... for a start I probably wouldn't be able to get upright. Then there is the whole balance thing. And the obvious: water skiing belongs to beautiful, young, fit and energetic people. This no longer includes me.

But somehow, I found myself tubing again this summer. I guess it was a combination of the girls all wanting me to do it and a 'you'll regret it if you don't try' feeling. They were all having so much fun. I didn't want to miss out.

So there I was, attempting to climb from the side of a boat into a round piece of rubber and plastic which was moving infuriatingly; continuously backing away as I put my foot in, then bobbing uncontrollably as my other foot stretched out and I would end up in the water rather than sitting comfortably on the top. How do the children do it? They are so certain of their bodies. They are young enough to know that if they ask their arms, legs or torso to do something, it happens. If they want to sit or turn or twist they do. If I want to do those things my body says no, or ignores the command completely. A sort of "I cant hear you" fingers-in-the-ears thing.

I eventually found myself lying spreadeagled unflatteringly on the tube, tugging unsuccessfully on the handles, trying to lever my unwilling body into a more comfortable and aerodynamic position. After a few minutes I gave up and we set off, slowly at first, the children asking every few seconds if I was OK. My beached whale impression was going down well, I thought, as Bethany took some photos and grinned cheekily from the boat. Ellie was suppleness personified on the tube next to mine. Flexible, beautiful and ready for speed. I agreed to let Andy increase the throttle a bit and we churned through the water like a boat towing an attractive 15 year old and an elephant.

But then something wonderful happened. As the speed increased, we were suddenly riding the wake and I was no longer a large ungainly lump in the water, but a weightless soaring nymph. Alas it didn't last. The children and their father were plotting my downfall and minutes later I was hearing the dreaded words "BUMPY" shouted form the boat, reaching my ears above the roar of the engine and the whoosh of the waves. Spray hit my face, the tube bounced and bounced and ... I gave up and let go, flying back in the air and into the water, probably very ungracefully. I was under the water for seconds and tugged back to the surface by my life jacket. I used the minutes while Andy turned the boat to lie relaxing on my back, eyes closed to the sun, tranquil. Alone. The peace was not to last. The boat returned, with the sounds of shrieking children ... "That looked great Mum!"
As I lugged my body, no longer weightless, back onto the boat I decided that that was enough excitement for this summer.

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About Me

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I have been married to Andy since 1991, we have 4 daughters, 2 dogs, 2 cat, 4 rabbits (and various baby rabbits) and a hamster (not dead). We have lived in the U.S.A since 2000, and are citizens of the U.K. I miss many things about the U.K.(pubs, old buildings, red post boxes, church bells,narrow roads, a good joint of roast lamb with mint sauce, to name but a few) but I have grown to love the U.S.