Thursday, July 29, 2010

Adventure Bowl
Holy Shit! Jet Skiing!

Can doing an adventure a week make you a happier, stronger, spontaneous, more decisive version of yourself?

The answer, for me, is yes. It's not even 24 hours after this adventure and feeling like the most powerful, kick-ass, optimistic version of myself, I emailed my ex and told him to stop calling me. It's something I have been meaning to do but I have been enjoying the "crutch-y-ness" of it. He's reassuring, he makes me feel good, he tells me it's going to be okay. He keeps me stuck in this place where I don't have to move forward.

But I want to move forward. I have to.

The idea of the Adventure Bowl is just for things like this - it's not just the activity but hopefully it's going to make you feel SOME WAY - usually a way that's lying dormant in you. "I've been meaning to stand up to my boss/boyfriend/co-worker/mother-in-law." Or you have a fear... Or you think you can't POSSIBLY do something.

Then the Adventure makes you feel like the strongest most awesome version of yourself and you know you can. In my case, it was get rid of a piece of baggage. Really hot baggage. But nonetheless.

Okay! Jet Skiing!

So I pulled this out of the bowl and I was so psyched. I put in there purposefully because every time I see someone doing it, I wish I was that someone. That's how you know something belongs in the Bowl - if you have a desire to do or try something, if you have an EXCITING feeling about it, that you squash because of fear or I don't have the money or "it's not really for me," or whatever "Button" you're pushing in yourself that makes the desire for "fun-ness" go away - THAT'S the thing you should be doing.

For me... there were some things to confront. I was raised by the ocean. I was a fish, in the ocean constantly, fearlessly, like all kids should be. That's the time you don't have a button, you don't push things away or if you do, the sweet reassurances of a parent or loved one can help you overcome everything.

When I was 14, my cousin M, who was like a brother to me, died in a skiing accident. I found myself literally becoming this eccentric character you might see in a movie. Everything scared me Now, let's remember, he died just months after my Dad has a series of heart surgeries and right after his heart transplant and my parents were living 3,000 miles away at the time - so there were no reassurances that everything would be okay.

I didn't want to ski. Or skate board. Or ride a bike. Everything felt unsafe. Too out of control. A year later, my five year old cousin had cancer. A year after that I was a sixteen or seventeen year old going to the funeral of a little kid I used to babysit every week. He had died in a skiing accident.

The world is unsafe. The world will swallow you up like a monster and take you down whole. I'm sure all this fear was playing out in a million different ways in relationships and bad behavior - an when they are little ways, you can ignore how you've changed... you can ignore the things that you have given up for fear.

Then I was in Greece. I was 19. My best friend was living in Paris. This sounds all very glamourous, but let me tell you, it was one of those quintessential poor college kids with backpacks and a map and with my BFFs rough knowledge of French that got us through France, Italy and then Greece.

In Greece, where literally, everything was $3 - a hotel room, a meal for 6, buying drinks for the whole god damn bar - we decided to go out on this boat trip and swim the Mediterranean. I jumped in and it wasn't long before I had my first panic attack. Something came over me. (I am a trained beach life guard at this point). Maybe it was that no land was in sight. Maybe it was the first time that the "bigness" of the ocean dawned on me. But I was immobile and I was panicking and I was going to drown.

And if I ever doubted how much my best friend loved me, it was never in that moment, even as 19 year old idiots jumping off boats in mismatched bathing suits off the coast of Greece. She saw sheer panic in my eyes - swam over to be, got behind me in a life guard stance (she was one too) and towed me in.

But that was it for me and the ocean. Until spring break, me and seven of my guy friends. I had a lot of Coors Light in the sun as you should do when you are in Daytona Beach and jumped in the ocean only to have to be horribly and embarrassingly rescued again.

So here I am in present day, just looking at this Jet Ski adventure. Fingering it on it's little piece of paper. Knowing it means so much more than... just the fun that it should be.

It's confronting a huge fear. (Yes, a normal person might just see how they can stay ON TOP of the Jet Ski and possibly not ever even have to touch water - this is not the person I am - get to know me!)

The adventure got put off when a friend could only join on a certain day. Then yesterday came. In my mind the scenarios of possible escape tactics are organizing themselves in my mind. "Maybe, they'll be out of jet skis, maybe the ocean will be too rough, maybe we won't pass the written exam, maybe they're not open on Wednesdays. Maybe a couple died yesterday on their Jet Skis and this will be a day of mourning for the couple... just out of respect, they won't be renting jet skis today."

As we got to the rental place and the door was closed and locked and I could feel the part of me - the part of my person is that is SO FUCKING AFRIAD OF EVERY THING, breathe a sigh of relief, I hated myself.

But then there was Charlie. The owner. And before I knew it, we had jet skis, and have passed the exam and were donning life jackets and being lowered into the holy shit ocean.

I got on the back of 2nd best friend's and my sister rode her own. 2nd best friend could give two shits about my fears - she's known me since I was 15 and her own words she's watched me collapse like some kind of flower that hasn't been watered over the past four years.

And she's no having it.

So she ramped that jet ski to as fast as it could go and I started howling and laughing and screaming but not in fear but pure joy! Thinking, "This, this, this, is what I want my life to be!"

Have you ridden a jet ski? It's like riding a motorcycle across the ocean. Really, really fast. You take a wave and you are airborne - not just the ski - but you, holding on your friend's back for dear life.

And it is AWESOME!

2nd Best Friend then gets me to drive. You would think I would be all tentative, afraid to do anything too extreme in case we tipped and ended up in the ocean. But no, I did not care. I revved that baby as hard as I could. Soon we were flying across the ocean - sea spray smashing us in the face because I was determined to take every wave. I put danger ABSOLUTELY out of my head.

I've never, never had that much fun. If I have, then the sad part is, it's been so frickin' long I don't remember.

My sister switched up with 2nd Best Friend. I wanted my sister who is a rebel rouser - unafraid of anything to be on the back of my ski and FEEL MY WRATH. She had been taunting me about how I would probably cry or freak out or come up with some excuse not to go. And you know, what, I don't blame her.

But once she was on the back, I hit that gas so hard that she lost her mind. "YouaregoingtofastYouaregoingtohaveuskilledNotthatfastOhmygodyouarenotjumpingthatwavvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvve!"

What a baby!

I jumped that wave - we got smashed in the face with ocean and we laughed our asses off. And mostly, I felt like a bad ass. For me, for her. But mostly for me.

As much as we were donuting around the ocean in our final moments before Charlie was going to take the jet skis back, I took the time to just think... you don't have to be afraid so more. You just fell down a hill and a year and a half of physical therapy and a traumatic brain injury and breaking your shoulder and surgery - you're here. If anything happened to you... wouldn't you rather die happy?

Happy seems better than afraid. Yesterday, it felt so fucking good. So fucking good, it's how I feel today. The best part, it reminded me of who I was. Being with someone who knew you when you were sixteen will do that. Because when you look at them, all you see is everything you were: sneaking into the rich boys school and stealing there stuff, egging cars down by "Makeout Lake," having roof top parties - literally... parties that were on roofs, swimming out to boats with a six pack of beer and staying up all night talking about our dreams, being bad girls and doing donuts on people's lawns in the rich people neighborhoods.

Yesterday, I heard from my sister and 2nd best friend and even from myself, a version of our laughs I hadn't heard in years - it's young and silly and unselfconscious and joyful and AWESOME. And I know for each one of us, we needed that Jet Ski outing for different reasons.

So... what is the adventure you want to do? What do you fear? What could you do that would make you feel awesomely stronger? For me it was Jet Skiing. I guess that's what I needed to cut the cord with an old boyfriend. And you know... pushing someone out of your life that doesn't belong there, that doesn't serve anything, just makes room for someone better, more loving, nurturing, fun.

Someone to Jet Ski with.

If you love this post, I would love for you to post it on your Facebook or Twitter. Someone, who's felt like me, might just need to hear it.