#301, Paddle a canoe or kayak
When my mom and Rich decided to leave California and move to San Carlos, Mexico, I was conflicted. I asked why they would move so far away from us, so far from the grandchildren, so far from LA. The answers came in bits. My uncle had said once that in Mexico he could live like a millionaire without being one. He loved to build houses and he helped my mom and Rich build a spectacular one in San Carlos. Rich has a sailboat and when it is moored in San Carlos he can see it from their kitchen window. My mom has rooms and rooms to showcase her lovely things and plenty of books to make her happy.
Whatever the answers are, they have made a life here. After years sitting at desks under fluorescent lights, they are now reaping the rewards of all that work. There is plenty of sunshine, ocean air, time to waste, and always a view of the sea.
They have people here too. My cousins Jeff and Trish, Marie, and my Aunt Dodie spend a good part of the year here. They are friendly with their neighbors and their friend John is a warm and generous man. So generous, in fact, that he was kind enough to let us borrow his kayak today.
We crossed the street to John’s house and walked up a narrow staircase.
I should have ducked when I got to the tree, because I was knocked in the head by several unripe mangoes as I passed by.
I can’t tell you how happy that made me.
When we arrived at John’s patio and I saw this lovely hammock hanging here, I was tempted to grab a book and disappear here for a few days.
Rich prepared the kayak for us and was decent enough not to laugh as we pushed out into the water.
I had visions of exploring sea caves and getting glimpses of stingrays and pelicans. I was in the front of the kayak and my mom paddled in the seat behind me. There was a great deal of back seat kayaking which only grew in intensity the further we got from shore. And then I remembered something. My mom can’t swim.
It’s a reflection of the stage we are at in our lives now that we resolved the situation neatly. When I was a teenager, I would have paddled faster, growing more aggravated with each stroke. Her tone would have got sharper and I would have bristled. Even though we were close, we might have turned this into a battle of wills.
But now I have teenagers of my own and the nineteen years between my mom and I don’t seem like very many. I am calm now and she is sweet.
We paddled back to shore and I let her get out. She waited in John’s swing while I paddled out again. I tried to take the dog with me, but she moved so much I thought I might capsize. I shoved her out and decided that maybe kayaking, like most things, is best done alone.
The wind was picking up, but I paddled my way around the cove. I saw a pelican sitting on a dock and I paddled up to some caves with strings of seaweed stretching across them like hazard tape.
When boats motored by, I struggled against their wakes and twice I got stuck in rocks and had to work my way out.
But for awhile, I just paddled along- pulling strokes with forgotten muscles, loving the warm breeze against my face, and the calling of sea birds in the sky.
I looked at the desert rock, the blue sky, and I realized that my mom looks at this view every morning. I decided that I wouldn’t want her to look anywhere else, certainly not at the 405, not at the high cost of Los Angeles real estate, and not at the pointless accumulation of things which is often the hallmark of this city she used to call home.
I imagined what it would be like to wake up every morning, throw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, and jump into the kayak with a thermos of coffee. I liked the way the dream felt. I saw myself throwing a kayak on top of the Jeep and I saw myself paddling into the open sea.
Each day, what I really see, is my time on the planet growing shorter. I feel greedy about the time I have left. There only only so many things I can do and be now. Time isn’t open in the same way. I have to choose how to spend the rest of my life. Just as my mom is doing.
But today, because of The List, I was a kayaker pulling oars in the Sea of Cortez, watching dogs frolic in the surf and shuffling my feet in the sand to avoid getting stung by sting rays.
I knocked my head on mangoes and I had a story to tell.
That’s really enough.
Actually, it’s plenty.
240 days to go!