“Hold on to your hats,” Natalee says as we float past the no wake zone.
Will revs the engine and then punches forward. The boat shoots across the water, the wind beating at our faces. At first, it’s hard to keep my eyes open. I feel like I’m swallowing too much air. I hold onto my (literal) hat, nervous a gust of wind might swipe it off the top of my head.
We ride around the lake looking at the hills, at the pops of green trees, at the cars driving by on the freeway above us. We curve into alcoves, looking for a place to beach the boat, all while listening to country music at full blast, nodding our heads, smiling to each other, looking forward to the day.
A half hour later, we’re in beach chairs, freshly sunscreened up, eating burgers and fruit and cheers-ing canned drinks, settling into the unplugged, independent nature of a lake day. I wade into the water on my tiptoes, flapping my arms.
But only for a minute.
We talk about everything and nothing, and the hours melt away.
We get back on the boat and then glide out onto the water.
It’s 85 degrees, the sky is a solid blue, there is not even one cloud. My bathing suit is red, my shoulders are pink, and my hair is flying in all directions.
The boat turns and wind whips at my face. When I lift up my arms, they fly, weightless. The music blares through the speakers. I bob my head and sing loudly, knowing the sounds of the boat will drown out my voice.
We skim over wakes and spray lake water to either side as we turn. We wave to other boats and we yell as loud as we can. We are free on the water, in the sunshine, on our Saturday. The wind blows the burdens off our shoulders, allowing us to just exist in the moment, on this boat, on this day.
We are alive, and light, and happy. We are together. It’s a hard feeling to describe in words, but it is easily shared in the excited whoops and hollers. We smile and we take pictures. We record as much footage as we can. But we know it’s not something other people will be able to see or feel, not unless they were here. Not unless they understood the heaviness that was being turned into lightness. Not unless they felt the sun warm them and the water cool them, over and over and over. Not unless they felt the wind lift their arms up into the air and hold them there, taking the weight, taking the pressure.
We cruise back into the no wake zone and our hair settles on our shoulders. It’s knotted and slimy from the lake water, it’s going to hurt to brush. But when I wash it, the hot water doesn’t take the day with it. It does little to wash away the feeling on the boat, at the lake, on that Saturday. Somehow I think it just scrubs it deeper.