DEAR COLLEEN

Dear Colleen,

I think a goose stole my sandals. It’s really the only logical explanation.

Last week, it warmed up enough to go paddling. It’s still early enough in the year that the dock had no business being in place so Devin and I dropped our boards off the edge of the deck–Clare took a kayak–and climbed down. We went out again the next day but, by that time, the guys from the marina had installed the dock and we were able to launch without the rigamarole of a ten foot drop.

The first day, the paddling conditions were sunny but choppy. I paddled across the channel on my knees but by the time we’d made it around the island and around one of the stanchions of Memorial Bridge, I’d gotten comfortable with the waves.

Did you know I used to be scared of the water? When I was a kid, I was a fish when it came to the shallow end but terrified of the deep; my parents used to have to bribe me to jump off the diving board. Every time I would get in a raft or a kayak, I’d start to feel sick. There have been half a dozen times where I’ve backed down or chickened out or given up because there is some deep and buried part of my lizard brain that doesn’t want to get on the water.

I’ve always been scared of falling. Once, in the third grade, I fell while rollerblading. I’d fallen dozens of times before that but, for some reason, with this particular fall, I decided to land on my face instead of my hands and broke my two front teeth. Needless to say, I’ve never rollerbladed since. I think it’s that uncertainty that you can fall nine times out of ten and be more or less okay but it’s the tenth time where you land on your face that really scars you for all other endeavors.

All this to say that I was surprised to find, that, even as I nearly capsized under Memorial Bridge, I wasn’t nearly as scared as I would’ve been, as I should’ve been, and I hadn’t been scared to get on the water in a long time. Maybe it’s that I’ve fallen (and jumped) enough times that I can hop onto a board or into a boat without thinking.

Anyways! The shoes! On the second day, I left my shoes on the dock. The gates were locked behind us. We went and paddled all the way around Roosevelt and, when we got back, no sandals.

The obvious answer: someone broke in and stole them. But Devin’s friend’s Trip left his shoes on the dock and they were probably nicer than my ratty three year old rubber soled Jesus sandals so why weren’t his shoes taken? This leaves us to reach only one possible conclusion: a goose, paddling along, thinking the dock a safe haven due to its coating of goose shit from spending its winter down at the marina, hopped up and snatched my shoes, finding them to be decent insulation for its nest. Do geese make nests? I know you’re not a biologist but I’m sure you know a goose fact or two.

I was supposed to go straight from the dock to meet someone for drinks. I’d packed a pair of jeans to change into but hadn’t thought to bring a backup pair of shoes in case my first pair were stolen. I didn’t mention my theory about the goose when texting to reschedule, though I’m not sure if this really helped the believability of my explanation.

It was good to get on the water, even if I did lose my shoes and it was almost too windy to be fun. I feel like sometimes I get lost in the sitting-at-a-desk, wearing-pants-every-day, 9-to-5 of it all but when I’m on the water, I remember who I am (which is, apparently, a barefoot vagabond who comes up with weak excuses to get out of drinks).

Come back and paddle this summer. I want to go camping for my birthday. Did you get my Valentine?

Love and miss your stupid face,

Madelyne

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