Wednesday, May 28, 2008

H 2 O----yahh!

Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to relive some of the foolish revelry I enjoyed in my more youthful days. I was graciously invited by a colleague to spend the afternoon on Canyon Lake with him and a few other teachers. I jumped at the chance, knowing that there would be boats, wave-runners, water, and cliffs involved!! So after school, I raced to pick up a few essential supplies for the ice chest, darted home and changed into my swim trunks.

As I waited for another colleague to pick me and my son up, yes, I talked my son into going too, I felt the energy of anticipation building up within me. I told my son all the stories of the fun, daring things I used to do at the Lake when I was a teenager. "Isn't that why you have back problems and excruciating, chronic neck pain now, Dad?" I could tell he was TOTALLY missing the point of my story. But he was absolutely correct.

Growing up along the river and near the lake, I spent almost every free moment outside of school playing on the water. From swimming down waterfalls without a tube, cliff diving/jumping, and the numerous rope swings found along the bank, there was plenty of opportunity for exhilarating risk-taking. Being a sucker for peer pressure and always wanting to impress my friends (both male and female) I had my share of accidents trying to do harebrained acts that violated the law of physics.

One such instant was my attempt for a triple-gainer off a huge rope swing near the Gruene Bridge. With a crowd of drunken tourist tubers craving cheap entertainment cheering me on, I swung out over the narrow river as I had done so many times before. The plan was to release from the rope at its highest point, which was directly over the water. This would give me ample time to complete three back flips before splashing in the swift moving currents below. Because of the excitement of the crowd and my nervousness for trying a new trick, things did not go as planned. I actually let go of the rope while it was still swinging OUT. My tangental velocity sent me flying towards the other river bank rather than up. Consequently, I wasn't as high as I needed to be. After only two-and-a-half flips, I landed upside down, tucked in a tight ball, on my neck, in about three feet of water.

My momentum quickly took me to the rock bottom below where I again pounded my neck. At that point, I felt nothing other than the horrifying fear that I might have just paralyzed myself. I don't recall swimming or standing after that. I floated limply under water down stream with the swift current. Soon, two of my buddies who were pulling me up and out of the water. At that point I knew I could walk. There was a sobering sense of relief for everyone on the shore who had witnessed the failed flipping feat. . . everyone but one drunken tuber, who said, "Do it again." To this day, my C1 and C2 vertebrae go out of alignment on a daily basis, requiring several trips each week to my awesome chiropractor.

So you see why I was so happy to be heading out to the lake again after all these years?! Once I gave up rope swinging, I had to find something "safer" to take its place. Cliff Diving seemed perfect. I had heard about this nice cove at the lake that was surrounded by 35 to 50 foot cliffs. After driving our cars through the labyrinth of winding streets in a particular subdivision and trespassing through someone's property, my river friends and I finally found ourselves standing atop the cliffs staring down into the cool, dark water below. Jump after jump after jump, we'd spend entire afternoons theres several times a week. Jumps turned into twists which turned into flips which turned into dives. Once again I found myself pushing the envelope of what was sensible. With my "shallow dive" approach to jumping, I always bruised the inside of my calves and biceps from the recurring impact with the water, but it always made a splash big enough to reach by friends high above. Those were the good ol' days.

Yesterday on the lake, we accessed the same cliffs from the water. They didn't look as tall as I remember, until I climbed to the top. Standing there again brought back so many fond memories and pains. While my son watched from the pontoon boat with his life jacket on, I went right into a classic "parachute" shallow-dive. From under water I heard what I thought was "You're crazy, Dad! I'm telling mom!" coming from the boat.

After several more jumps and dives, but NO FLIPS, we went back to the marina. After 16 years I was able to experience the thrill once again. The fact that my son wanted NO part in my shenanigans was fine with me. It's actually comforting to think that his temerity and cautiousness might save him a lifetime of back and neck pain and discomfort. As for me today? The inside of my calves and biceps are beginning to bruise, and I have a 8:30am appointment with my chiropractor.


Anonymous said...

Tate failed. I trusted him with one job - keep dad inside the boat at all times. We're running out of ice packs and Ace bandages.
-The Wife

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Mathematics and your Wife are good balances for you.

Anonymous said...

It was as much fun just watching you as I am sure it was for you jumping! It was indeed an awesome afternoon.