It was my first time on a jet ski. I had been swimming for a while, watching as every person quickly volunteered and argued their way on to the vehicles. I was content just to sit there. I was cautious. I wanted to be safe and I didn’t think they looked safe. But Charlie was leaving sometime in the near future and said, “Come on, Nicole. I’ll take you.”
The cautious part of me yelled, “NO! THIS IS A VERY BAD IDEA!” But the part of me that had been suppressed for far too long, that adventurous streak, more like my sister Brianna than me, pushed Cautious Me in the river and I found myself dawning a life jacket and pulling myself on to the jet ski behind Charlie. “I’ll try not to throw you off,” he said.
He started the engine and we were off. For the first minute or so it was glorious. I love going fast. Or Adventurous Me does anyway, and so the ride was great. Then we turned. It was fast and before I knew it the river was swallowing me. I surfaced sputtering. Charlie came around, apologizing, and I climbed back on. Another minute of gloriousness, the wind in my face, the water below me. Then we turned, and this time I saw it happening. Instead of dragging Charlie in with me, I let go and somehow hurt my ankle. I couldn’t pull myself up because I was so out of breath, so Charlie turned and hauled me up.
And we were off. “If I fall off again, I’m just swimming to shore,” I joked.
The third time I flew off the machine, I bit the inside of mouth to halt the shriek that would have come out. It hurt, but by then I was used to the warm embrace of the river and wasn’t as shocked by the fall. I was done. Charlie slowed down a bit, and drove us back to the dock. Everyone expressed sympathy at my wipe outs; all three were seen by at least one person. I crawled out of the water and pulled myself up to the dock. Cautious Me was at the surface and cursing Adventurous Me.
Never again. I thought. I’m not getting on one of those monstrous things again.
Charlie apologized, and of course I forgave him. It was actually kind of fun. My mind kept dwelling on those beautiful moments before I was tossed off. We all went up to eat and by the time we came back down I was considering riding again.
They kept asking me if I wanted to drive. I’ve broken three lawn mowers. Of course I don’t want to drive. It’s a ridiculous thought for someone like me. Driving a car takes up all my talents in the driving area.
Bethany assured me that she drove slow, and would be extra gentle if I rode with her. So I did. And she was slow. I don’t think we got over 30 mph. But it’s natural not to want to scar someone who has already had an almost traumatic experience. We were out there for a while and it was so much fun. We watched the others go tubing and wipe out. We drove in figure eights (and by “we” I mean Bethany). There were some rather large swells that were fun. Then she took me back so she could give Jess a ride.
I spent a good time in the water after that. I didn’t really want to get out. The water and I have that kind of relationship. I watched everyone else go and the urge to ride once more overwhelmed me. And then Andrew was going for one last ride and asked if anyone wanted to go. Sometimes I have trouble voicing what I want. But not this time. “ME!” I shot my hand in the air, like it was a question I knew the answer to in school. I grabbed a life jacket (I hate life jackets) and climbed behind him.
“So…super fast and super crazy driving, right?” he joked. I laughed and then we were off. He went faster than Bethany, but I wasn’t thrown off once. It wasn’t very long; just until Mr. Rusty got the car down to the dock, but it was amazing. After I got off, I felt kind of giddy.
Adventurous Me had won for once. I had ridden a jet ski. I mean, I didn’t drive one, but maybe next time I will. Anything is possible. 😉