H2O Fears and Birthday “Firsts”


I think I squelched any chances of winning the “2015 Wife of The Year” award when I made my hubby plan our annual “it’s-all-about-you” birthday trip. In the chaos of my life, I just didn’t have it in me to plan an A-Z trip for him this year. This is my 8th year of birthdays with him, and I dropped the ball big time.

Normally, I plan our travel location (and its activities) well in advance, but this year’s day-to-day left me spent. I honestly didn’t think we were even going to go away since our trips of choice are usually something within driving distance across the border. We always take full advantage of great shopping and U.S. prices for his birthday (along with the cool activities I plan, of course), but the sad little Canadian dollar didn’t make it all that enticing. Instead, when I realized that he really did want to go away, I suggested Ottawa.

Why Ottawa? Well, some of you may recall that one of the things my beloved and I do (since meeting later in life) is plan “firsts” to do together. Since I had never been to Ottawa before (and he hadn’t been since 8th grade), I figured we could consider it a “first” and visit our country’s capital together. When I made my suggestion, he quickly replied, “Then I’d like to go white water rafting.”

WHAT????

I’ve scaled the exterior of the CN Tower for this man, jumped out of a plane, sat through Andrea Bocelli (no offense to Mr. Bocelli… but I just don’t understand enough Italian to appreciate the experience), learned to golf, and much, much, MUCH more. And now… I must spend a day doing an activity in angry waters.

In my blog on fears, I didn’t really go into detail about one of my biggest psychological hiccups. If I could take dry showers, I would. So willingly sitting in a flimsy piece of rubber/plastic/whatever, that is filled with air and not impenetrable floating steel, only to throw myself onto jagged rocks, is not really my idea of an activity I’d be looking forward to. It was at that moment that I washed my hands of the entire friggin’ weekend. I was done. I informed my hubby that I didn’t have the presence of mind to plan anything (other than the dinner reunion with his buddy), so he was on his own. I then began to prepare myself for my potential H2O demise.

When the day arrived, I was—to put it lightly—in a foul mood. I couldn’t even bring myself to wish him a happy birthday, and I’m sure he wondered why he was wasting his special day with someone like me. Also upon waking that morning, I even realized I hadn’t bought him a birthday card. Yup… Superwife. That’s me.

Once we arrived, I began my final mental preparation for the activity. As much as I was doing my best not to spoil his birthday, I’m pretty confident that the big black cloud over my head could be seen for miles around.

We all gathered into a theatre-style area for our briefing and I started to study the 70 people that were also going on this excursion. The crowd was a mixed bag of ages, body types, cultures, and emotional dispositions (meaning—most were excited or nervous, but I was the bloody miserable one). As I did my best to bury my emotions deep down inside of me, I couldn’t help but hope that my husband would suddenly be struck with a bad case of Montezuma’s Revenge so that we could throw in the towel and head back to the hotel (with many breaks at rest stops along the highway, of course).

The guides at Wilderness Tours took us to the river of doom, and Kyle gave us a highly entertaining prep talk. A talk which included the proper way to hold an oar, as opposed to the “dick hold” he warned us not to use. I’ll let you use your imagination for that one, but it’s not what you think. You’ll have to book a tour with them next year to find out what it actually means.

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Sure… they look happy now…

Our boat’s guide was the ever-so-adorable Hannah. Hannah is the only gal manning a boat at Wilderness Tours, and my husband’s birthday was actually her last hurrah before leaving to go back to school.

Hannah is a petite-yet-athletic young lady with sun-kissed hair, crystal blue eyes, and a beautiful smile. A lovely, well-spoken girl who is the perfect combination of feminine and sporty. Although she is probably only 5’3,” you could tell that she was a young woman who could hold her own. Go ahead… try that cheesy pick-up line with her… I dare you.

After we rowed through the calm waters, we were instructed to leave the boat for a photo op, and also have the opportunity to watch some of the activities on the first rapids. As I stood teetering on a rock, peering through the trees, I saw one of the smaller rafts approaching the first rapid. In the blink of an eye, it was upside down and the only thing I could focus on was the terrified look on the face of the girl it had just violently tossed into the waters of doom.

I was done. I was now doing everything in my power not to have a full panic attack or vomit on the nice Dutch woman from Oakville.

Keep it together Veronica. Focus on the fact that there are two 10 year-olds on another boat. If they can do it, you can do it. Wait… What irresponsible parents would risk their children’s lives… Focus Veronica. Focus. You’ll be fine.

As we sat in the boat waiting for our signal to plummet to our deaths, my breathing became labored, and tears started to well-up and betray my seemingly calm outward exterior. It was at that moment that I said a silent prayer. “Dear Lord, I ask that you place a hedge of protection around all of us so that we can make it home safely today.”

No, I did not throw my husband under the spiritual bus with a prayer like, “Dear Lord, if you must take someone today, I ask that it be my lame-ass husband for making me do this!” No, I rose above it and just asked for protection for all of us.

My focus was now on survival. I need to do two things:

  1. Focus on Hannah’s commands, and
  2. STAY IN THE FRIGGIN’ RAFT!

Despite the fact that each time we went over a rapid, the guy in front of me threw up his arms like he was on a bloody roller coaster (while I continued to row as Hannah had instructed us), and subsequently cracked my fingers with his oar during his moment of being a non-rule follower… I stayed as calm as possible.

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Not smilin’ so much now!

During our lunch break, I could not lie to my giddy husband when he said, “Are you having fun sweetheart?”

“No. No, I’m not.” Insert scowl.

I really hope I was able to fake it enough for those around me though. I hope that when Hannah shouted, “Is everyone having a good time?” no one noticed that my mouth did not move as the rest cheered.

My husband came away from his birthday experience with a newfound passion for an activity—an activity that he said he would participate in again, and again, if given the opportunity.

What did I come away with?

I came away with a sense of appreciation for being alive, but also a sense of pride for surviving one of my greatest fears. Would I do it again? I can’t really answer that right now.

Stay tuned for part two of my Ottawa “Firsts” trip. The adventures continues. (As will the name-dropping during our activities.)

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