I had been a competitive swimmer and diver, and on the first pull I hadn’t been concerned. I firmly grabbed the icy, rough wooden boards of the float deck and pulled while kicking my feet as hard as I could. I managed to get my shoulders above the deck level, but not enough of my body to belly flop and tilt my weight out. I fell back into winter ocean. Alana, the friend I had convinced to come along, fell back by my side.
I could feel the cold in my knees. My hands were turning into claws. Alana and I gasped, breathing out in plumes of white. Neither of us said anything, but I was sure that Alana’s mind was running the same paths as mine. We were going to die if we didn’t get out. How long could an unprotected body survive in the glacial waters of Southeast Alaska? How long was it? I had been told a thousand times, five minute? Ten? Twenty? It felt like we’d been in the water for an hour.
|The view from the float. From the CBJ webiste.|
We tugged our clothes on and ran up the ramp and back to the car. Once we were safely within the heated space, we started to laugh, and then howl, and tell each other how amazing that was, how crazy. We drove to a friend’s house where Alana told everyone gathered what crazy girls we were.
Now I think it was a small price to pay for living past 17.