Sunday, February 3, 2008

In Over My Head

On our third set of rapids, I think I got a little cocky. The raft hit a boulder and I saw my little brother start to lose his balance. I reached forward to save him and all I managed to do was land us both in the drink. My first thought? Dammit, Jared! This wasn't the first time that attempting to help him landed me in over my head.

My little brother, Jared is 10 years my junior and 6 feet tall to my 5 foot 7, so every time I call him my "little" brother, part of me wants to clarify the statement. Every. single. time. Even though he outweighs me by a good 50 pounds, I can't help thinking of him as the tiny, timid 9 year old that he was when I moved out of our parents' home.

One of my favorite bloggers, Ree, often talks about the things she does because she's a middle child and I can relate in that I often find myself doing things because I'm the oldest child. I spent most of Jared's first years playing mediator between him and our sister, the middle child. I think my lifelong desire to be a teacher can be attributed to being the oldest child and my ability to let Jared literally put me in over my head is just another symptom of "oldest child syndrome"....... if there is such a thing.

The last summer vacation we took as a family before I left included a float trip down the Current River in Missouri. We had been canoeing many times, but this time we thought it would be fun to take it easy and simply float down the river in innertubes. Jared would have been 8 or 9 at the time, and even though he got all the athletic ability in the family, he wasn't terribly coordinated at this point. There was a point in the river where it split for a while, one side slow and easy, the other fast and scary looking. Me and Dad took the fast side; the others went the slower way. During the pass of the cooler bearing innertube, Jared decided he wanted to go the faster way too. I'm not sure what happened then, but Jared was standing in shallow water and he was yelling about something and scared about how fast the water was rushing past his little feet, when he lost the grip on his tube and I, like an idiot, stepped deeper into the rushing water to grab it as it went past me. Whoosh! Feet out from under me, I was skimming along at a fast pace, completely out of control with no tube and no way to stop myself from slamming into a tree partially submerged in the river. The river spun me around and around until I was close enough to the shore for my Mom to grab my hand and pull me out. I stood there on the bank, shaking, watching the blood run down my leg, and wondering how I manage to get myself into these situations. Nothing broken, I NEVER break bones, but sometimes it hurts so bad you can't help thinking that it SHOULD be broken. Stupid shin turned practically black, let me tell ya, I make some pretty bruises. My leg was still bruised that winter when I was standing outside my dorm in sleep shorts after some joker pulled a fire alarm. (Bastard.) So....back to the rafting story.

Once again I was at the mercy of a river, this time in New York, though at least this time I was wearing a helmet and life jacket. The big difference is that I actually knew what to do. The river guides lectured us on what to do in the event that we fall out of the raft, of course the idea is to NOT fall out of the raft. What can I say? I'm a rebel and a thrill seeker. Heh.
They told us to point our toes down river and float on our backs, steering with our arms. WHATEVER YOU DO, they said, DON"T TRY TO STAND UP!!! DON'T DO IT! How silly, I thought, I'm wearing a life jacket, of course I'll float, why would I try to stand up? They were so right. My first instinct in my momentary panic until I remembered what to do was to stand up. I resisted the urge and was quite proud of my floating ability, only yelling when my back made contact with a particularly large rock. Ouch. That one left a mark. My brother and I were picked up by rafts further down the river and then transferred back to our own. The best part? I had the presence of mind to not only save my paddle, but my brother's as well. I. am. AWESOME. My dad later told me that he was glad my Mom had changed her mind about going with us because his heart stopped when we tumbled into the river. My Mom? She can't swim. No rapids for her, thanks.

So, that's it. Two instances of rushing water over my head; both involving my brother. The moral of the story? I blame Jared.

*I have some pictures of me in the helmet and life jacket somewhere, but I can't seem to find the disc, but if I find them later, I will definitely post them, even though I look sort of ridiculous.


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    MP said...
    Love those stories.. Missouri Rivers are either totally lame..when you feel like you have to push your raft or they are downright dangerous...
    I've had many bruises from float trips when I was younger, they also included alcohol...

    Before I get too old I would love to go white water rafting...

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