I woke at 4 am this morning to the sound of my alarm chirping. As I reached over to turn it off, I had that split second of wondering why it was going off so early. Ah, yes. Today was my date with the river. Originally, I wanted to get up before sunrise and be at the river in time to greet it with open arms, but as I climbed the stairs and peeked out the front window, I realized that the storm which had rolled in last night was still there. I checked the weather, and saw predictions of thunder and lightning.
Maybe I should wait.
I headed back down the stairs, and climbed back into bed to be greeted by dreams.
I woke again at 8 am.
It's too late now...I'll go tomorrow with Dave before our hike.
No, you can't let yourself down. You have to do this. ALONE.
You're right. Let's do this.
I plodded through feeding the cat and dog I'm taking care of, went through my morning routine of getting ready, and stepped into my bathing suit, followed by a favorite dress, and my trusty Chaco sandals. I hopped into the car with the pug in tow, and headed to New Seasons for tea and food for the trip. Then, with the pug as my co-pilot and Ryan Adams blasting, we sped down the highway toward Koberg Beach, an hour away.
As I drove East, the clouds changed. The sky opened up and allowed the light to shine through, filling my heart with joy and excitement. It has been far too long since I had ventured out on my own for something like this. Something necessary...something cleansing. Something unpredictable and spontaneous. I passed Hood River, and took the ramp at Mosier, returning in the west-bound lane. As I pulled into the familiar rest stop area, I couldn't help but smile. There were so many memories at this beach. So many summers had been spent lounging on the sand with my friends, soaking in the sun and diving from the cliffs.
Grabbing my backpack, I trotted towards the beach. Empty. Perfect. I found a semi-hidden space to stash my bright orange pack, and threw off my sandals and dress. Walking into the water, the chill hit my skin with a slight shock, but it wasn't cold enough to stop me. To the right of me I could see the cliff, decked out with a Native American fishing platform, and two levels of metal T-bars that had once held up a dance hall. Across the river, I could see the lumber mill, with stacks for raw tree trunks, ready for transporation down the river. To the left of me, the Hood River bridge. I paused for a minute, then dipped down, submerging myself in the river before pushing off toward the metal T-bar that would serve as my diving platform. Feeling my arms slice through the water, I remembered how powerful my body could be, and that pushed me further.
As I got closer to the diving area, my feet found their ground, and I clambered up the rocks and cement. Carefully, my feet found their way down the T-bar, and as my toes curled around the edge, ready, I paused to look around.
This is my life. This is fucking amazing. I am so blessed!
Plunge. My body sliced through the water, quickly coming up for air. I had forgotten the joy of diving into cold, fresh water. My hair hung loose, floating around me, the impact having freed it from it's binds. Again, and again, I clambered up and dove. Again and again, my body sliced through cool, fresh water. Again, and again, I felt cleansed. Renewed. Full of joy.
On my last dive, all I could do was laugh, and whisper 'Thank you', completely grateful for my life and my abilities. Grateful for the people who brought me here, for those who continue to push, support, and inspire me.
Returning to the beach, I gathered myself up in a towel and sat on the sand for a while. It's amazing how healing water can be, and how the process of facing your fears can open your heart. Soon, I found myself changing back into my dress in the rest area restroom, and driving West again, giving more thanks, before returning to my daily life.
And best of all? I'm doing it again tomorrow. I think I'll dive from the higher platform this time.