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I decided a while ago that I would like to describe myself as an enthusiast of some kind. I like the sound of “I’m a _________ enthusiast,” even though that phrase kind of reminds me of this very tense woman I used to work with at corporate bookstore who described herself as a “birder”, and assured all of us that she could take any customer looking for the best bird guide for their specific needs. I ignored this offer for help, and sent those customers straight to the shelf with the advice “Sibley’s is the best.”
I’m enthusiastic about many things, to be sure, but it seems like to label yourself as an enthusiast of something, that something must be somewhat unique, perhaps unexpected–you can’t just match it up with every hobby or it loses its zing.
I’ve now found the thing that I am an enthusiast of. It is rather unique, totally unexpected by me, and I think has a nice ring to it–kayaking. I am a kayaking enthusiast. The fact that kayak is a palindrome is just a delightful bonus.
This past weekend, Joe Roch hosted a lovely shindig at the lake where we drank entirely too much, played parlor games, made s’mores, grilled, drank, swam, and I unearthed my affinity for water sports. What a time of discovery.
I’ve always been somewhat intimidated/put off by water sports, for a number of reasons:
- My family has never had a lake cabin, or been particularly close with anyone who does (except my Aunt and Uncle in Wisconsin, but we only saw them once a year at best). Therefore, there was no opportunity to practice anything I might be good at.
- Since we never had our own lake domicile, we also didn’t have any kind of watersports equipment. Again, we were at the mercy of my Aunt and Uncle who had a torpedo, speed boat, and water skis–no kayak.
- When I was at summer camp, a few of us took out a canoe for part of the afternoon. I had ridden in a canoe before, never paddled, but since I had technically BEEN IN A CANOE, I was considered an expert by my bossy friend. I had to be the steerer, which only works if the other paddler is competent as well. The other paddler (bossy friend) assumed that I was solely in charge of where the canoe went, didn’t really think about how she should be paddling and working with me, and kept yelling at me for misrepresenting my skills (which I had not done), as we gracefully and majestically went plowing through the roped-off swimming area sending dozens of campers diving for cover.
- The above experience was not fun, and not something I want to repeat, so for years I insisted that long narrow boats are simply not for me.
I have overcome that trauma, and had several pleasant canoe excursions since that time, but never have a felt so enthusiastic canoeing as I did in that lovely kayak.