Fresh Baked

Friday, September 10, 2004

Unbraving the Rapids

I was in a kayaking class once when a friend got caught in the branches of a low-hanging tree. She couldn't free herself and was starting to panic. I remember feeling that I had to get to her. I had to help to her. The rapids were pushing me into the branches so in pushing her free, I got caught. And then I capsized. It happened so quickly, though now it plays out slowly, so I can remember how frightened I was and how I couldn't think of what to do at first. Then survival-mode kicked in; I released my spray-deck and surfaced.

Getting my first breath of air was incredible. And then I was hit by another kayak. I was stunned and shaken. Catching my breath, I swam to get my kayak and then up to the embankment. The lesson for the day, how to go down a rapid, was still coming up and I was reeling. When it was my turn, and as I made it down, the instructor grabbed the nose of my kayak and tipped it back so I was held under the fall. Water slammed down on me, heavy. Suffocating.

I'm back in that place now. As I type my hands are shaking. There is a tightening in my throat and tears are threatening. I have felt the weight of it coming on all week-- little things that should roll away are sticking and building up. There's a drop ahead but I can't seem to get at it head-first and I don't know that I'll be able to paddle out without getting sucked under.