Monday, April 9, 2012

My River

My daughter grips my index finger tightly. Her hands are small, and when she's nervous, she abandons our usual loose, whole-hand-grip and goes for the security of a one-finger hold. We're at the river. It's a new place for her, but not for me. I've been floating this river for years. For me, this river means escape and peaceful quiet. It means friendship, love, drunken escapades and stories told in great detail. It's my retreat from the real world. It's physically impossible to do the dishes, pay bills or run errands while you're on the river. All you can do is float... and dream... or scheme... and laugh...

I brought her here today to show her my special place. We're in the park where most of our float trips begin. There's the bridge we walk across. There's the stairs we usually slip off and flop onto our butts. There's the shady offshoot that will draw you in and send you backward, but it would be worth the trip.

Her eyes are wide as she tries to take it all in. No, she most definitely does not want to take off her shoes like Mama and step into the cool, clear water. O.k., she'll take off her shoes, but she does not want to step on that green stuff. "Mama, they need to clean these stairs. That's dirty." I talk about algae and how it keeps the water healthy. She remains unconvinced, and glares at it disapprovingly.

We walk along a sidewalk that runs parallel to the river. "What's dose bugs doing down dere?" "What fish, Mama? I don't SEE the fish!" "Can we go back? I want to take off my shoes again!"

This time, I hold under her tiny arms and swish her bare feet through the water. We giggle about how cool the water is and talk about the people who are swimming and floating nearby. We follow along side a dog as he fetches a water toy - jumping in with a big, joyous splash each time.

We've been here a while. I'm getting hot and tired, so I know that she is, too. She maintains that she is not hot, tired or hungry. She doesn't want to leave. Fine, she'll go back up to the car, but she wants to sit in the backseat and play instead of riding in her carseat. Eventually, an accord is reached - we'll come back tomorrow. She's not ready to float in an inner tube, but she would like to bring her dog (so she can swim) and a picnic lunch so that we can stay longer. We're one step closer to Mama's version of paradise. We'll be there before too long...

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