Last week I had an incredible experience - I was able to take part in a kayaking trip with First Descents in the Washington DC area. It was Ah. Mazing.
I left my house on Saturday the 17th where I took a train from Chicago to DC. The train ride was about 20 hours and it was a pleasant train ride. My seatmate and I ended up talking quite a bit - which was nice, since when you travel as a party of one, you never know who you will end up next to (though, to be fair, I've only had good experiences with my seatmates!).
Night came and it was time to attempt to sleep. I sat next to the window and spent a fair amount of time looking out of it, as I would sleep for a bit, wake for a bit, sleep, wake, etc. I picked up pretty quickly that almost every time I looked out the window there was water.
Maybe I was paying more attention to it since I was about to head into a week of kayaking, of being on the water. I won't lie, I was feeling pretty anxious about it all. I was heading to a place that I didn't know, to meet people I didn't know, and to do something I hadn't really done before. And oh. I had to leave my family to do it - something I've never done before. I mean, I never even went to summer camp as a child. So I was, you know, slightly nervous - and by slightly I mean extremely.
But there was water everywhere! The train seemed to run right next to rivers often. It's gorgeous to see - the moon reflecting off the water as the train passes by. It's peaceful to watch - which is exactly what I needed. Since it was too late to turn around, anything to help relax me was good!
I got to thinking all the way back to high school English class. One year we read quite a few books where water was prominent. And I had to write several papers about the symbolism. Water often meant a cleansing, a rebirth, a moment to start new.
Now that I'm home and the week is over, I think, how appropriate that I was thinking about this on the first day.
This trip was awesome and life changing - in small ways, quiet ways, but meaningful ways. I've got a bit more peace about things now. Things aren't perfect. They aren't all magically better. But things are better. I've got more faith in my body - which I have viewed as broken, weak, and a disappointment these last few years. I feel lighter.
I think getting away from it all to do things I never thought I could, was good for me. It was good for my soul. And, well, it was just fun! I laughed a lot last week and boy did it feel good! I was surrounded by such amazing people - each and every one of them. Conversations felt easy and natural. This group of people who got so much about cancer and life after cancer. We would talk about it, laugh about it, but there wasn't that awkward am-I-allowed-to-laugh-about-this-moment pause. No looks of pity or cliche sayings. (To be fair though, we talked about so much more than cancer, it was a small piece of the puzzle). It was an uplifting week. And we danced. There was a lot of dancing, even if it was just our arms moving to the beat as the van drove us to the drop-off point that day. Last week had such an ease to it, at least for me and I hope for the others who were there as well.
I wouldn't call last week a rebirth so to say, but maybe a bit of a cleansing, a cleansing of some of the crap the last two years have brought. It felt so good. And I needed it more than I realized.
I'm pretty sure the water wasn't necessary to get to this point, but I do like the symbolism that is there. It seems a perfect match to how I am feeling. I loved my week with the water and hope I can do it again someday!