As I was talking about communication in yesterday's post I started thinking about our first experiences in a tandem whitewater canoe. Brad and I met whitewater kayaking—I took him down his first river with my parents who were also kayakers. It didn't take long before he was off an running with other, much better paddlers. If you know us, you know he has balls of steel and quickly overtook me and my skill level and went barreling down every scary river in the southeast (this was when we lived in NC before.)
For our first wedding anniversary, we bought a tandem whitewater canoe aka "the divorce boat." Like literally that's what paddlers called it. We thought our relationship was so good that we could do this. Obviously we are still married 22 years later but I swear it was a close call.
See how nether of us were smiling in that photo above? There was a reason for that. A regular canoe is stressful enough but a whitewater canoe has what is called "rocker" which basically means the ends curve up out of the water some—making it turn quickly. In whitewater you need to make fast corrections and swivel into eddies so you need a boat that is nimble.
We chose the Hiawasee River as our first outing, a floating river with a few riffles for fun. We went with a group, and smiling and laughing, we got into our new boat and start to head down the river—promptly swiveling in circles. Now, being kayakers, this should have been something we were familiar with! But no, not really—we were used to beith the masters of our own boats and found we were constantly working against, not with each other. Laughing, we eventually we worked out the basics and started on down. The laughter didn't last as we physically met our first rocks. Whoops. We forgot to communicate who will do what and when.
With every rock we hit our anger with each other grew. If I was madly paddling on one side, couldn't he anticipate why and work with me? No. Because we hadn't talked about it. He couldn't see much being at the back of the boat, why didn't I just tell him what was coming up? Ah yes, because we hadn't said words.
You know, out loud. Like grown ups.
It was a great big FFT and it ended up with both of us being quietly furious and stuck with each other for hours in the effing divorce boat.
We hashed it out over lunch on the rocks. He said what he needed me to do and I said what I needed him to do and lo and behold, we didn't want to kill each other anymore which was a good thing because neither of us were wearing our Kevlar helmets that day.
Another paddling trip in the divorce boat, after we learned to say words like honest to God grownups:
That's my mom and dad paddling with us! Also, you can see that we had helmets on...I wonder if that was for safety if we flipped or safety from each other?
May you quickly recognize when you're in an FFT and may you always be able to say what needs to be said!
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