Monthly Archives: March 2015

Within yelling distance

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Peel memory one billion and one: having the first overwhelmingly gigantic meal (RED MEAT) in Dawson City and drinking an overwhelming amount of red wine and doing the nasty sourtoe shot thing (tequila, natch) and being surrounded by new people and a whole new set of social requirements (I actually used the men’s washroom, considering the urinals only briefly and then dismissing them before surprising a man on his way in and remembering oh, yes, society=gendered bathrooms, as opposed to the equalizing magic of an utterly neutral hole in the ground) and needing so desperately to escape from everyone for a second and remembering that yes, off the Peel I was technically able to make my own decisions and be my own person.

And so, breaking away from the group in what felt like a huge explosion of rule-breaking, groupthink smashing self actualization, but was actually just walking about fifty steps down the boardwalk, I sparked up a joint that I had been gifted post-Peel, inhaled deeply, dramatically deeply as if my performance was being evaluated, and exhaled every fucking worry, ever. Exhaled into a sky made strange by streetlights and multi-story structures, but with enough stars to still feel like (the latest incarnation of) home.

And yes, when the group, equally bonded to me as I to them, recognized that one of their own was missing and came out the door and called my name, I was, as required on the trip, within yelling distance. And actually pretty relieved when they came down the boardwalk and surrounded me again. Relieved that they would still come looking.

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Phew

CanoeCanoe trip vs. urban grind. So many “I cannot possibly keep this up” moments, way beyond the point where “just power through” seems like an option, so I have to go easy on myself, be a little soft (which feels counter-intuitive), wait and see (which I HATE), and suddenly it’s like “Hey, remember an hour ago, when I couldn’t possibly go on? Phew.”

Not gonna lie, the grind is fairly challenging right now. Here’s a little scene from the memoir for days like this:

“Straighten out,” I say. “Face the ledge.” That’s what we were taught to do, face the ledge head on, and if you miss the V, the sweet spot for getting over, you power through. We should straighten out, but there isn’t enough time. Or maybe we aren’t trying hard enough. So we go over the ledge sideways.

“Wooooah,” We both yell, like we’re on the log ride at the PNE. “Woooooooahhhhh.” The decent isn’t a big one, only a few feet, but it works my stomach over like a freefall. Somehow, we land  upright, but the water at the bottom is forceful and confusing. I don’t know what it wants from us.

“We got this, Bakes, we got this, Bakes, wegotthis,” Daniel says.

I’m trying to remember, there’s one direction you’re supposed to lean in this situation, and it’s counter-intuitive. That’s what they told us. It’s either up river or down river, but it’s counter-intuitive. But my intuition is just reacting to the boat. We tip left, so I lean right.

We got this, Bakes.

I lean too far, so it tips right, so I lean left.

We got this, Bakes.

I realize what I’m doing, and try to feel my core muscles and sit straight. There’s this move, I can’t remember what it’s called now, where you slap your paddle down on the flat water like a beaver tail to keep yourself from tipping over. But there’s no flat water at the bottom of the ledge, only boil and froth that wants to wrench my paddle from my hand.

We got this. We have to get this. No, we haven’t go this. Capsize protocol runs over my field of vision like the Terminator: Target=water. Objective=get out of the spray skirt, head above water, locate your partner, signal that you’re okay. Get upstream of the boat. Swim to shore. Keep your feet in front of you, so they don’t catch on anything and leave you pinned under the water. Bowman takes the paddles, sternman takes the boat to shore. This is happening. When the boat tips again, I practically dive in.