The sun descended on the land behind the trees, transforming them from a barricade of green to a silhouette that reflected black in the small lake that had been rented on our behalf. Once I saw the fishing boat out in the lilypads, I ran down to the tiny L-shaped dock on the edge of our Wisconsin oasis while shouting, “I AM HERE TO RUIN YOUR TRANQUILITY!”
Graceful entrances have always been my forté.
I kicked off my shoes and pushed the paddleboard into the shallow end. The competing winds had disappeared, leaving behind a placid surface and acute silence. All I could hear was the sound of my paddle dipping into the water–three strokes on the left; three on the right.
As I balanced myself on the board and pushed myself out to the deep, one of the boys in the fishing boat said to me, “Watching you do that is nerve wracking.”
“I mean, I don’t want to get too cocky and jinx myself, but I feel like I’ll be okay.”
Even as I said it, the muscles in my calves twitched, my balance faltering slightly. It was my second time out on the water without a bathing suit or a backup plan; I came to the center of the lake, shifting my weight with each push of the paddle.
I looked up to see the crescent moon peeking above the glorious oranges of the sky and the dark wall of trees. This week of grown up summer camp, filled with s’mores and beer and hilarious company, would be ending soon. This time last year, I was finally letting what had long been unraveling completely undo itself–including myself.
In one year’s time, I managed to get everything I had said I wanted for years (or at least, I was on the pathway toward it), as well as just what I needed–unexpectedly, remarkably, often painfully. I didn’t know at the time that it would require reducing my life to a smoldering crater to get there.