I dip the paddle into the black water, creating a wave that ripples to join the others, rolling far out to the depths, pushing me along with them, like sea nymphs luring me to their home. My kayak, angled horizontal to the waves, rocks side to side, occasionally tilting enough to threaten my dry clothes. I scoot lower into the seat & rest paddle against thigh. My eyes roll up to behold the stars above me; curls brush against my bare shoulders. The big dipper stares down at me, one human among all he’s looked down upon since creation.
Earlier in the night, after a late dinner with the family, Dad & Mom had left for what Dad thought was a romantic night kayak on the bay. As soon as we heard the golf cart leave, Chaffin & I had grabbed the hidden carrot cake & jumped into the car, rocking out to Elvis Presley as we drove like mad-women to Jolie’s Island. Across the bridge & through the woods, we took our positions on the beach, flashlights ready. I climbed the rigging of the playground ship to get a higher angle of operation. Ready? 1, 2, 3… We flipped on our flashlights & began our Morse code, light dance, airplane-landing signals, waving lights in every direction across the bay, signaling Mom that we were in place. Mom feigned overwhelming curiosity & suggested they paddle towards the lights. As the kayaks got closer, I beamed each one with a spotlight of inspection.
Ahoy there, Matie! Varina? Happy Father’s Day!
Now after cake & laughs, I’ve replaced Mom in the kayak & Dad & I are paddling, drifting, floating out to sea. The thud of a splash sounds behind me. Angelfish leap eloquently into the air, fleeing death’s sharp teeth, to gracefully fall at an angled belly flop into the water. Great. Jaws is going to eat me, kayak & all. I bet he’s already got Dad. Where is Dad?
I turn my boat with a slight back twist of the paddle & see a lone kayaker silhouetted in the spotlight of the moon. Palm trees & condominiums provide a peaceful backdrop for the story I capture with the snap of my eyelids. Big band music dances across the bay from the lit up scene of the Baytown Warf. I look down at the dark water noticing the shadow of my paddle rippled by waves rocking me to the rhythm of the ocean. Suddenly a white flat oval swims under the kayak followed by 2 more. Dad paddles up mumbling something about phosphorous & glowing fish. More splashes announce a school passing through.
I close my eyes & count to 3, then open them to steal a fresh look on the beautiful panorama. Humid, salty wind sweeps back my hair & I breathe in the sea. The peace surrounds & relaxes, & I stare across water into the beauty of night. Really, into nothing at all. In this moment, no thoughts crowd my mind of cultural readjustment or family dynamics. No feet rush past me on a fast paced sidewalk of life. No fears or questions about the future snake in to ruin the moment. No, my mind is clear. All thoughts outlawed by the romantic atmosphere of midnight kayaking.
I am just here. Simply present. Being.
I am at rest.