So Saturday I worked.
Immediately upon getting off I was going to go to a show of Brat Curse that was happening somewhat nearby. I was in work clothes and all by myself. I got lost trying to find it the first time. Then when I first saw it I thought I’d noticed no parking available. Well it turns out there was some spots open but I begin to feel nervous and discouraged like I’d sit there alone and these people I only sorta know would probably ignore me.
I chickened out. I failed to socialize. I failed yet again to make much needed new friends.
I just drove on to Dayton. I should add here that I had intended all along to drive to Dayton this night. All during work there had been a huge bag of dirty laundry lurking in my trunk waiting.
So anyway I met up with Rei, Needly, and D-Heim at Kings Table around midnight. We had a few drinks, talked, laughed, scolded, got mad and in general hung out.
It’s really weird how much is changing this year. Lady and another girl I know are pregnant. Fuzzy who hasn’t had a normal job in at least 5 years and was living with Anime for like 9 yrs has gotten an apartment, a car and moved up to a management position not too long after getting a “normy job.” A couple who’ve been a couple since I met them in 2006 are getting divorced. I moved to Columbus. Two of my friends are going to move to Colorado. It’s really crazy. I like to think it’s a rippling effect flowing through me and the people I know within my range in this fabric of the universe. I feel like telling people now is a great time for change. Now is the time to take a risk and go for something in your life. I don’t know where this big wave of change started but I know I am floating and feeling it’s push and pull. I’m trying my damnedest to ride the wave but Dayton strings do tug me back.
I Rei rode home with me. We’d stayed until bar closed.
Fort-he drove us out to the canoe location around noon on Sunday. It was at least an hour drive through the country, trees, middle of nowhere parts of Ohio. I saw a club house that stood tall on wooden legs and called it “An above ground house” which Rei found funny.
To those outside of Ohio (Native American for Great River) you may think of this state as farmville and small towns. Well this is true for some part sure, but that is not the Ohio I know. The Ohio I know is a struggling city, urban decay, new developments, hope, cement, construction, murky rivers, littered trails, tall buildings, suburbs, ghetto, museums, clubs, colleges and bars. That is the Ohio I know.
So anyway we all meet at this restaurant Stone House Tavern. Rei, Fort-he and myself are the last to arrive and I sense some annoyance from the others who have already ordered and eaten. Rei and Fort-he order beers but I get nothing because I am of course broke as a joke. Rei and I eats the remainders of somebody’s popcorn like homeless people out of a McDonalds dumpster. We leave behind not a kernel but I did refrain from licking the paper liner at least.
Needly and his cool lady friend go out ahead to get some beer to fill our canoe coolers. I give them $2 in request for a twisted tea. Rei and Fort-he finish their beers and we wait forever for the checks because our server is either too busy or on a cigarette break. I swear I am the only server I have ever known who doesn’t smoke cigarettes and I’ve served at four different places now. We wander down next door to the restaurant as Rei hits the toilet. There are hand made crafts and such. I am memorized by this cool troll doll, but later scolded for taking a picture by this counter bitch witch who mourns the loss of her youth.
So finally we get out to the location. It takes a good half hour between Needly having to find the place (he got lost from gas station to canoe location), for us all to get situated, for the beers to be bagged, for life jackets to be buckled, and vouchers paid.
There are three canoes making up our group. The first being a couple who seem cool, they both work military if I’m not mistaken, they are on a diet together so they have the same food restrictions, they are about the same height which is a little shorter than myself, they both have short hair, they are both tan and I think they do fancy beer like everybody present but me? Then there is Needly and his lady friend who maintain the larger supply of beer. Fort-he Rei and myself make up the last boat. We have the small legit cooler that belongs to my mother. Us being a boat of three I am more than happy to just sit in the middle and enjoy the ride. In fact I brought my pink parcel umbrella just for the occasion. This is the same umbrella I brought to com-fest. My dear pink sun protector has sure been through some shit and I look forward to seeing how many more adventures it can survive before I have to finally break down and get a new one.
So finally we all load up on the short bus which has a trailing attachment of canoes.
The river is green with a steady pace. It is slow and calm welcoming us as we climb aboard. I am given a paddle even though I had no intention of using it. Rei is hyper and excited right off the bat. Despite me sitting in the middle under a parcel enjoying the scenery we are the fastest of our group thanks to Rei’s manic enthusiasm. I find her energy to be catchy and it puts me in a good mood too. Fort-he is too sensible and has us stop at a little side area for the others to catch up the first opportunity that arises.
So we all stand around on our little island and drink beers. We seem someone’s lunch tossed about carelessly on the rocks. Flies and ants run rampant. I lift my twisted tea in the air as a salute to all the canoes in passing. The boys skip rocks. We all drink beer.
Back on the river we paddle ahead. It’s nice. It’s awesome. Rei and I sing just around the river bend as we imagine ourselves Pocahontas from the Disney film. Or maybe Rei is Pocahontas, Fort-he is John Smith and I am the useless raccoon sitting in the middle. Shit I don’t mind being the raccoon, it’s cute at least.
Rei continues to paddle us far ahead of the others. She pays no heed to the pace of Fort-he. He warns her that the canoe will flip. At several points we nearly crash into a log and he yells “Left Left!” or “Right Right!”
Suddenly it’s a tree that stretches across half the river with it’s web like branches. Long stick limbs like fingers stretch across the river and reach out from under water for us. The water itself had suddenly picked up speed and it all happens too fast. Fort-he is yelling and I fumble with my umbrella reaching for my paddle. Too late. The boat flips and we are in the water. I feel my umbrella pressed against my back as the half turned boat is before us is held tight in the might trees grip. I can see it being pulled further into that branchy web by the force of the current. Fort-he grabs the boat and stops it from being pulled in further with the panic strength of he-man on adrenaline. Rei does the same with silent determination and concentration. All this as I hold my twisted tea in the air and grab the cooler. Booze first you know. I’m quickly handed their two paddles. “Hold these they cost money!” I am told. I step back away from the battle. I am the keeper of items, our valuable treasure. I suppose my ability to maintain my umbrella, beer, and save the cooler proved my place on the team.
“We’re missing a paddle!” I inform them.
Much to my horror I realize the current is stronger there at the tree. Both Rei and Fort-he are being pulled into the branches with the sinking canoe. They are literally within the web of sticks and twigs getting sucked in deeper by the second.
Help arrives in the form of a well experienced father daughter team. The girl may be a teenager but they both seem to have done this before so we welcome the assistance. They walk right into the web of branches showing no fear. They grab the boat and help begin to pull it out of the monsters grip.
My paddle is found and it is handed to me. I am holding a large stack of things at this point standing right in the middle of the river as other canoes float past me. Someone yells to me that I am doing the most important job. I simply smile with gritted teeth for all the stuff I am holding requires balance to maintain.
They all work together and the canoe comes forward slowly but surely. I am handed another paddle. This is a forth paddle with a green end and a lighter wooden handle. “What?” It was found from within the beast. I suppose it was our prize for conquering the thing. Rei and Fort-he had lost their beers but nothing else was lost. A new paddle gained seemed quite a triumph in my eyes.
It took us a while to get back on the river. Much thanks to our family team saviors. Rei is focuses her energy into paddling and I help this time with the cool new paddle. In no time at all we have caught up with the others who had passed us during the chaos.
We stop two more times. Each one is a little drunker. We see the father and daughter team and wave at them shouting our eternal gratitude and lifelong alliance against river tree monsters.
We pass some teenage boys who keep spinning around as they can’t master unison timed paddling. We yell to them much encouragement. Warriors in training they are.
We pass some cool young people also drinking beer. I am sitting with my parcel out once again just enjoying the ride. “There goes the fancy girl!” Someone yells. I lift my watered down tea in salute and drink it anyway.
At one of our stops a hippy couple drifts by. They are literally just sitting in the canoe floating along. At this point I have tied a string of flowers around my head as I have taken a liking to doing so whenever I see long strings of wildflowers. I salute this tattooed couple for I support those who just enjoy the ride and nature. The male who was in the back looks back at me after they pass. He spreads his pointer and middle finger and wiggles his tongue between them. I am shocked while the others start laughing and telling me I’ve made some hippy friends. Rei said “They saw the flowers in your hair and knew you were their type of people.” I said “I’ll take that as a compliment I guess?”
I climbed a tree drunkenly at the last stop. Got bit by many mosquitoes in the process. We were all feeling good at this point.
For that last string of the river Rei and I each had a nice buzz rolling. We sang just about all the Disney songs we knew which was never once an entire song but usually the first set of lyrics followed by a shouting of the chorus. Fort-he was extremely tense ever since the battle with the river tree and I assumed he really must hate the sisters to which he was assigned.
My only regret is that we passed the rope swing. I love rope swings and it’s been a couple of years since I was on one. This one was being used by the young people who called me fancy. Fort-he was leading the group at this point and he said we didn’t have enough time to get over nor enough space to park the boat. I protested and whined for a bit but not too long.
Around the corner we suddenly found the landing dock and employees waiting for us.
“Paddle backwards! Paddle past them!” Rei shouts as she is feeling like I am. We don’t want the adventure to be over yet.
Alas the employees are well trained and they master the river like a commanding officer. We are pulled to the coast and given no reward for the found paddle.
We change out of our wet clothes those of us who can, and people scan their smart phones for cool local restaurants.
We ended up at a kinda cute little diner. I was able to afford a fish sandwich with the money we saved doing a three person boat. (I’m doing pretty good as a pescetarian.) It was nice, but service was slow. I bought a cookie for desert because I wanted a cookie dammit.
Tired and worn all of us with hair a mess we said our goodbyes. Til we meet again brave river warriors. And yes we shall do this again.
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