You can squish two kids into a small kayak, but you shouldn’t.

Jana: Briefly, let me warn you not to share a one-person kayak. Keep the Kayak for One to yourself.

I came to this conclusion many years ago, while vacationing with my family in Maine. My parents made friends with a lovely old couple who lived down the lake, and they kindly invited us over for an afternoon of water-sport-like fun. Unfortunately, they had only three kayaks, but everyone figured, the kids are fairly small! Put em together! What could go wrong, I wondered as I silently lowered myself into the microscopic amount of space not already occupied by my sister. What, that is, aside from an afternoon engaging in a difficult, strenuous and stressful activity in an awkward environment? I had thought that would be all.

And it WAS all, until I emerged from my portion of the kayak and attempted to turn my head. No no. My neck was frozen, rendered useless by the hours spent cramped up in the front of a kayak built for one (my sister, having occupied the roomier back of the boat, was totally fine).

I spent the rest of the vacation in a neck brace. Mostly I dealt with this by lying on my side on the floor of the cabin with my brace on, reading novels I was far too young to understand, like “She’s Come Undone” (a book just TEEMING with sexual assault, among other issues). I think that was also the week that I read that series of books about the mother who abandons her kids in a grocery store parking lot, which led to my years-long certainty that my mother would definitely abandon me at ANY point.

I also have a memory of being in the water in one of those loungy chairs, neck brace on, with my mother. Everyone felt sorry for me (although I think I mostly took it in stride) so she stood next to the chair and pushed it around while I lounged to the best of my ability, looking straight ahead (as dictated by the brace).

Here I am still wearing my neck brace during the car ride home. I BELIEVE that I am impersonating a nun here, or some other religious leader, because the neck brace reminded me of a habit? Or a pope hat? Either way, my family LOVED it, and I continued to blissfully evade realities about what a weird kid I was.

Catherine: I would like to take a moment to thank the religious affiliation Jana was imitating for making this photo possible. A NECK BRACE? From kayaking??? Seriously, but no, but SERIOUSLY – this could only have happened to Jana, young or old, only she. My. Lord. (P.S. Sorry I haven’t written my own whole post lately, oh ye loyal followers, I have broken the unemployment streak and am thus financed yet crazybusy. Will share horrifying life tales soon.)
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