One of my favorite people alive invited me to go kayaking today. Having never kayaked in my life but always wanting to try it, I was thrilled. She picked me up, we scarfed some pizza beforehand, hauled the gear into the car, and headed off to the water. I looked like a bag lady pirate in cut off pants and an over sized t-shirt over my swim suit, a big black and red lobster hat on my head.
We shoved the kayaks into the water, climbed aboard, and were off. I've rowed a boat before, but kayaking is different. For one thing, the water's right there beside you and the kayak is so comfy. I just lolled back and made figure eights with my paddle thing, clumsily knocking the side of the boat and trying to imitate my friend B, who made graceful, effortless arcs and skimmed along like a water skipper on the still surface of the water. We saw so many birds: egrets and cormorants and seagulls, most of them perched on some object sticking out of the water, wings outstretched to dry. I kept catching myself thinking, "I should tell B to take a picture to send to Mom," then remembering my mom was dead. Still not used to it yet. Still fresh. So I decided to whisper a grinning side note to my mother, pretending she was skimming along beside me, enjoying this perfect day as much as I was. I looked at the birds and watched tiny fish jump, went right up to rocks jutting and waves breaking against them, peered into recesses in rusted out docks, salt water glistening on the countless spider webs under every horizontal surface. B pointed out an old ship abandoned on shore, grey with age, and a cool old building with paint peeling off crumbling brick. We surmised it might have been some building from World War II's war production, then paddled on. We read the names of dozens of boats, some wonderful, like "At Last" and "Sun Catcher," some gross and ridiculous, like "Wet Dream." B took me to a little area behind some reeds where somebody had sculpted a little cat on a rock right by the water; the shoreline was loaded with white clay. Excited, I suggested we sculpt something too. So we pulled the kayaks ashore, scooped up a basketball-sized blob of clay and set to work. She made a cool shark, which she stuck in a tree over the water. I made a mermaid perched on a rock, looking out at the horizon. Then we jumped back in the kayaks and paddled back to where we'd parked and drove back to her house. We ate Chinese food while watching the first five episodes of True Blood, which I'd never seen. Loved it. She drove me back home, both of us sleepy and happy, me clutching a sea shell and my bag of sandy clothes. The night sky was full of stars, and I tipped my head back to stare. A perfect day. Haven't had one of those in a while. Didn't expect to have one so soon after my mom's passing. But Life likes to toss you a curve ball sometimes. Some of them are good, some bad. Today's was very good. So thank you, B, for suggesting the kayaks in the first place, and thank you Life, for throwing me such an unexpected and wonderfully sunshiny curve ball.