The flip

I’d be perfectly happy if none of these people talked to me today. I’m desperately trying to hold on to the river and see the V leading me forward through the sandbars and sudden rocks.

But now the rocks have become people and wads of gum and bad drivers, the water is now concrete and unmoved.

I have my tan lines and my scratches from the trees and bruises from the raft and straps holding us in. I flipped into the water on the last and only day of the rapids. All I remember is seeing the yellow boat look me in the eye as it dumped me over into the Colorado River. Days before I felt how cold the water was, dipped my head into the movement and felt a brain freeze without putting anything into my mouth. But that day I was dumped, I didn’t feel the water at all or how cold it was. Something inside me knew to warm up quickly, to flap my arms behind me, to keep my feet up and my head up despite the rapids pulling me down stream. I backstroked to shore and shivered.

Later that day my step-dad said he was sure glad to see my head pop up after I went under.

I had a feeling that day something would happen. The days leading up to the rapids were calm and sunny, at times windy, but we pushed through to camp despite the work. That morning there was a silent nervousness through every one. We were about to venture into the river’s heart and who knew what we’d find there. She changes daily, the night before the sky broke and dumped water on us into the night. The water level rose with sediment and tree limbs. We could only see as far as she would let us. We could only pick our lines as we saw the choppy chocolate milk waves before us. The canyon had a pulse of its own. Next year perhaps we’ll choose the right path.

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