“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because if its persistence.”
The first time my husband came to me, I was 7 months pregnant with my second.
“Going out to see a house at the river in Blythe this weekend.”
Ugh. Really? It was hot. I mean really hot. River hot. River hot is not like any other hot. It blasts through you, like you are being microwaved from the inside, and I had a baby cooking in there already. And, I don’t know, last time I checked? Microwaves? Not so good for little eggs. I think they explode (not that I have ever microwaved an egg to find out. Just what I’ve heard).
But his eyes were full of hearts and stars. When Ray gets an idea in his head, especially one with hearts and stars, there’s no arguing.
So, what did I do?
“Seriously?! Why not Big Bear? That I could see. Snow in winter, skiing, boating in the summer . . .versatility, Ray (and I love little kidlettes dressed as marshmallows). Why not check it out?”
“You just don’t know. You don’t understand, it’s so much fun. I grew up going out there. You’ll see.”
What I saw on our first trip out there was miles of dust and dirt and desert without an outhouse (remember? Pregnant bladder). What I saw was my sweat pits growing as we hung out on the patio of the house discussing price points. What I felt was the growing realization that this was happening, no matter what I said.
Years ago, I had gone on an inner-tubing excursion down the Kern River. What I remember (vaguely) was the beer, the loud, rowdy crowds (that would be us), and the overall, well, trashiness of the whole thing. I was in college then, that was what we did.
We were pregnant. That was not what we did now.
Give me ocean, the sea and sand and lovely waves. River has muck. And things float down river. Ugh.
And here’s the other thing. I hate the water. I can swim alright, just not my thing. My chickens are fishes, but that’s because I’ve had them in the water since before they could crawl so that they would not be like mommy.
Sure, the houses we looked at were really nice, not at all what I was expecting. But they were at the river. In the desert. You can put lipstick on a pig . . .
“You’re such a stick in the mud, you’ll see.”
So, when things finally got going, and we made it out as a family (two kids later). I waited to see. And I waited. And I waded. After the kids who were still too little to be without constant supervision the first summer. And after our youngest who was too little the second summer. We had to maneuver napping and crankiness, and the never-ending need to just get out of the heat, which always forced me into the dreaded river to cool off, or else back to the house (my preferred option), much to the dismay of my husband.
The sandbar we would travel to also had its issues. The crowd that frequented it tended towards loud inappropriate music and lewd language I absolutely didn’t want my kids exposed to, to say nothing of the trash, the booze, and the cigarette smoke. River. Kill me now.
Then the third summer . . .
The kids were finally old enough to swim off the dock off the back of our house with just a careful eye on them from under the awning. Without naps to adhere to, there was no desperate need to return to the house to avoid a later upset. Things grew so much easier, we fell into a routine that was working.
The river also developed a growing sandbar in the middle of the river just outside our house. We could wade across, and it was (almost) muck-free fun. Plus, we got to leave the less savory crowd behind. The kids also enjoyed playing in their new “bamboo forest”, collecting shells and playing hide-and-seek in the tall grass. It was our own private little beach.
Waking up one morning before anyone else, I got to enjoy my coffee and just watch the sun come up over that damn river.
But now, I appreciated its peacefulness a little more.
And I found myself getting in the water a bit more often (although the kids still get a good laugh at mommy when she does happen to step in that lovely muck). Just a bit. Baby steps.
Still have to learn to ride a wave runner, which I’m told is a blast. But at least now, I’m actually considering it.
And who knows? Maybe someday soon, I’ll earn the distinction of River Rat. . .just give me time to see.