Tuesday, August 10, 2010
More Good Times, No Excuses Allowed
Lately at Autism's Edges I've been ruminating on how one thing leads to another in ways that we can't ever expect, let alone predict. You start out headed one direction and you wind up somewhere altogether different, and oftentimes infinitely more interesting than anything you could have imagined on your own.
Examples of this one-thing-leads-to-another principle permeate our lives . . . most recently the gift of Pokémon statuette led to a fabulous play date for Sweet M and me. An autism conference two years ago and a reading group friend lead to my current teaching job. And the weekend before last a trip to the grocery store lead to a late afternoon kayak ride with the sweet girl on the Hudson River.
Take the trip to the grocery store on the first weekend of August. It was a beautiful day — warm, not hot — as the heatwave of July had given way to a pleasant 78 degrees with a cloudless sky. The sweet girl and I set out to go to the grocery store . . . we didn't have anything at home that would work for dinner . . . but when we got to the cross street that leads to the Hudson River, I said, "Oh, let's just go have a look at the river. It's a beautiful day . . . let's check it out."
So we walked along Prince Street as it turns into Charleton and then wended our way up to the Houston Street crossing of the Westside Highway. We rounded the bend of Pier 40 recreation area and walked along a nearly deserted dock where an enormous Norwegian cruise ship was headed down the river and out to sea.
When we circled back around the dock, we came across a landing, filled with kayaks and people kayaking. I thought, wow, someday we should do that -- that looks fun. I thought about Jim and Charlie and their fabulous kayaking adventures along the Hudson and Jersey's waterways.
I said, "Hey M, do you want to go kayaking sometime?"
"Yeah, sure," she exclaimed.
"Great, we'll do that sometime."
As we got closer I could see that there was no line. And the people on the river seemed to be having a lot of fun.
But I didn't have my wallet with me. I'd walked out of the house with just a single twenty to pick up some dinner, so I figured we wouldn't be able to afford the rental.
I asked the woman working at the landing how much it would be for half-an-hour and she said "Nothing -- it's free."
"Free?!" I exclaimed, "Free in NYC?!?"
Yes, the volunteer confirmed that it was free. Free thanks to the Downtown New York City Boathouse.
"But we don't have any sunscreen on," I said, equivocating.
"Oh, no problem—we have loads of sunscreen," the volunteer said, pointing to a gallon jug with a pump nozzle on it.
"What about life jackets?"
"Oh, we have those, too," she said, pointing to a long rack of life vests.
So I put away my excuses, along with my twenty dollar bill and my cell phone, which I stored in a locker — yes, they had lockers and locks, too.
And the sweet girl and I headed out on our very first kayaking adventure.
Man-o-man it was fun. Super fun. And free. Inspired by Jim and Charlie and out of the blue sky and depths of the river.