Ahh, sweet summer. It's here! And last week we had the beastly hot temperatures that the northeast is famous for, which brings out the whiner in all of us. We whine when it's too cold and snowy and we whine when it's too hot and steamy. It's a rite of passage for all who live in New England. Last week was brutal. Prime whining weather. HOT! HUMID! UNCOMFORTABLE! Don't get me wrong, I'll take it over cold and snow any day, but it was tough to bear, especially since we don't have any a/c in our house. Friday the 19th was hotter than Hades. There was no escape from the heat, even when one was placed in front of a fan turned on turbo. I was reading on my guest bed, barely breathing shallow breaths, and I had sweat dripping off of my body. Dear friends of ours had invited us to go "tubing"in the early evening on the Housatonic River, which is right below their home. Let me start by telling you that I'm a nervous nelly when it comes to water. Especially, oceans, ponds, lakes, or rivers. I'm fine in a clean pool, but the other aforementioned bodies of water freak me out. I'm just not an aquatic person. Never have been. I don't like the thought of unknown squishy things being below me in the water. Fish? Muck? Algae? Eww!! I almost died on our honeymoon when we rented a boat and Jonathan coaxed me into snorkeling. I barely got into the water when I saw a big, icky fish and scrambled up the ladder of the boat so fast that I nearly broke my collarbone. After a hyperventilating anxiety attack on the floor of the boat, Jonathan saw my true colors and didn't try to get me to snorkel again on that trip. He's smart that way. It was embarrassing. I can jump horses over five foot jumps, but swimming makes me truly weak in the knees. I've gotten better in the water since our honeymoon, though I'm still not exactly comfortable. Truth be told, I'm not even close to being comfortable. I knew that Jonathan really wanted to go tubing on the river, so I was grappling with whole prospect of putting myself in a potentially spazzy situation. The practical me thought it would be fun. The freak show me was having an anxiety attack at the idea of getting on a tube to float down the river. I was torn. Anxious. Addled by days of extreme heat. But I wanted to be a big girl and do this!! Not to mention that it was Africa hot and the water would no doubt feel great. Conquer those demons, I told myself! So, with shaking hands I donned my bathing suit and off we went to our friend's home.
"Hello," I called out in a high, breathy voice when we arrived. I knew there was no backing out now. I had to be brave. I had to face the river and my fears. Our friend's were happy to see us.
"You'll be fine," Emma consoled me as she patted my back (she knew I had trepidation about this adventure). The guys were laughing and beers were opened for the trip. We threw the big tubes into the back of their truck and headed out. When we arrived at the shallow spot for us to take off, I shuddered a little, but not enough for anyone else to see. I took a last pull of the beer and gamely, I dragged my tube into the river, hoisted myself upon it and began to...float. I was floating! It was actually pretty easy and fun, even for a water chicken, like me. The Housatonic is very kind at this time of year. It rolls slowly, the views are breathtaking, birds are on the water, you float in a dreamlike state. It was almost fun! I was stiff and nervous when we got the first fast flowing section. We had to navigate through some rocks and I proved to be successful and didn't kill myself. Phew. First hurdle, conquered. We floated and floated and passed through some more faster, rocky areas, with no issues. Hah! I was DOING this! I was being brave and though secretly I wanted it to be over I couldn't argue that the water felt lovely. I was finally cool on this hottest of all hot days.
The end of the ride was signaled by the appearance of the gorgeous covered bridge in Cornwall, CT. It's a storybook sight, that bridge. So historic, a sign of days gone by and also, a faster current.
"Go to the right," Nick called out over his shoulder. I made sure to paddle my tube over to the right side of the bridge just before we got to more fast moving water, which spilled us under the bridge, dodging more rocks and all of sudden I was in the lead. OH MY GOD, I WAS IN FRONT OF EVERYONE ELSE. I looked over my shoulder and saw that the others were laughing and relaxed, so I didn't panic. Ha ha. Fun, fun. I'm in the lead. We're in the river, hurtling along, passing big rocks, the current was strong. I looked back a final time and Emma called to me, " This is where we get off!"
"HOLY HELL," said a voice in my brain. "THIS IS WHERE YOU GET OFF!" Without another thought, I threw myself from the tube, like I was on a sinking ship in the middle of the Atlantic and landed in the water. It gushed over me. I went under for a minute, trying to right myself, but only managed to vainly grasp at slippery rocks. My tube sailed by me, leaving me to die all by myself. I watched it as it headed downstream, like an uncaring bastard and barely heard Emma say, "Oh Michele, your sunglasses!" Blast! As I stood up on shaking legs in the two feet of water, I realized that I'd lost my dang sunglasses. My expensive Dolce and Gabanna sunglasses that I'd had on my head were now victims of the river. Oh, the rocks, the slippery, mossy covered rocks. I could barely walk. The shore was in my sights, only four feet away. "Screw the sunglasses," I said. As I scrambled to the shore, scratching and bruising my legs, I watched Jonathan head downstream, like an agile fish, to fetch my wretched tube. Emma searched for my sunglasses, though it was in vain. I gasped for air and thanked the gods that I hadn't bashed out my front teeth on the rocks when I "fell" in the river.
"They're just sunglasses," I called out, my voice shaking. "How about we head back and get a cocktail?"
So, I did it. I tubed down the river. I survived (barely) and it was fun until the end, when I almost killed myself, through sheer panic. The dunk in the river actually cooled me off, and I feel badly that I lost my fancy sunglasses, but I'm glad that I didn't wimp out. Cold comfort. In the end, I blew it. However, in the long run, I don't really care. We ended the evening by having a spectacular meal by candlelight at Nick and Emma's house. Today I went to CVS and bought two pairs of cheapo sunglasses to replace my fancy pair. I'm pretty sure that if I were to tube again on the Housatonic (fat chance) those cheap sunglasses would cling to my head, with tenacity and I'd emerge like a watery freaked out mermaid, ten dollar glasses, intact. Lesson learned. NEVER GO TUBING AGAIN.