Adventures I’ll never have (whew!)
I was perusing my latest batch of Whatsleft.com companions and noticed one specific individual who had spent the last 6 years living in Antigua, sailing. As I mopped up the drool from his photos (the boats, not the guy), it got me thinking about the adventures I know I’ll never have. Not because its too late (no such thing), but because I’m a wuss.
I’m the person who learned to ride a motorcycle without breaking the 10mph barrier (my instructor thought it was a hysterical idea that I’d ever buy a bike), I can’t look down from the top of a 14-er or I’ll puke (the whole point of hiking for 5 hours really), and the notion of not having a job fills me with fear. The one time I was laid off from consulting, I had another job within 24 hours (admittedly at Macy’s, but hey, I had a mortgage). I admit it, I’m kind of a wimp which means some things I can dream about, (and safely know that I’d never have to actually do that because I’d have to wear Depends the whole time).
Kayaking in Alaska
This is top of my ‘want to do, won’t ever do’ list. I love the idea of Alaska, the last frontier, the wilderness and natural beauty. Eagles, whales, seals and of course ice floes. I love to be on the water and sea kayaking is fantastic fun, plus it puts you smack in the middle of all that nothing. Which is where my knees go weak and I think ‘oh hell no’. What happens if I drop my paddle and it sinks? What happens if, by random chance, a whale decides to surface right underneath me (it has happened folks – hear the screams in the video? that would be me)? What if an ice flow crashes down on my head? Or my kayak springs a leak? Or a bear decides to go for a swim? I’m terrified of bears and being in the water is no guarantee I won’t meet one. So my idyllic natural adventure trip is suddenly Grizzly Man: The Aquatic Version and instead of the peace of paddles dipping and water lapping, its the sounds of screaming as my kayak is upended and whales, bears and who knows what are fighting over my various limbs like Thanksgiving dinner.
Sailing Across the Pacific
I love to sail and I’ve been doing it since I was 11. Being on the water is one of the few times I’m in control, I’m at peace (even if I’m racing) and exhilarating doesn’t begin to explain the feeling of flying when the boat starts to plane. Growing up sailing in the UK means most of my experience occurred in full wetsuit, drysuit, booties and all manner of gloves, gaiters and hats. Sailing meant being wet, being cold and often, freezing your eyelashes to your face. Not how most people would choose to spend 4 or 5 evenings a week, but for me, an addiction I thought I’d never break. But here’s the rub, I’m terrified of actually being in the water. I swim with the dynamism of a brick and I float just as well. It actually makes me an excellent sailor because I can capsize and right a boat within seconds, and sometimes without even getting my feet wet. The fear of being in the water stems from early swimming lessons where I was only rescued from drowning because my mother (watching from balcony), noticed that I was sitting at the bottom of the pool and not moving. It didn’t get much better as I got older, but I became excellent at being on the water. Just not in it. Fast forward to my fantasy; sailing in warm breezes across the ocean, nothing but water and the occasional island or sandbar. Dolphins swimming alongside the boat, the spinnaker raised, the only sound of the boat hitting the waves… and me screaming. Because what if the boat sank? Or a whale surfaced under the boat? Or they didn’t actually kill Jaws? Or I got lost and endlessly circled the globe without ever seeing land again? I know I’d spend the voyage in a low crouch, roping myself to the mast while everyone else lays around in bikinis and shorts, and counting down the days until I could touch solid ground. Because the what-ifs are too many and they outweigh what I suspect would be the adventure of a lifetime. On the plus side the likelihood of bears would be low.
Backpacking Through Asia
I love to backpack. The idea of carrying everything you need, being perfectly portable and self sufficient appeals to my British blood enormously. Filter my own water, erect the tent and I’m making tea within minutes (yes, I always carry powdered milk and teabags). Backpacking frees you from having to book hotels, carry suitcases and enables you to stay in places not big enough for a hotel or an inn. I’ve backpacked through wildernesses, camped on the edge of an Alp and been woken by seals on the beach. Backpacking in Asia would combine my love of self sufficiency with my desire to get out of the city and into the country, experience the actual countryside of a foreign land.
But in reality, the allure of exploring remote villages, wandering around Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia is outweighed by my fear of having to eat food that has tentacles. You can show me all the photos of rice paddies, elephants, beautiful villages and cute squatting children, but I’m worried about the tentacles. I don’t need or want to eat a bug. I don’t care how lovely they are or how they’re the indigenous food of X, Y or Z. I don’t like seeing them alive, so I certainly don’t need to ingest them when they’re deep fried. My cholesterol is bad enough. Plus I’m a celiac – how do you ask for gluten free anything in a third world country? Knowing my luck the only thing on the menu is fried crickets and some specialty grub-worm. Nope. I’m a wuss. Insects are off my menu and therefore so is this particular adventure. Plus, there might be bears?
Cycling through Europe
And finally, the one which I’m the most embarrassed about. I love to ride. I love Europe. God knows I spent a lot of my childhood in France, Germany, Italy and the UK. I’m not scared of the food, I can make my way through the languages with some good miming and a smattering of French. There are no bears and I don’t think whales make it into the Rhine. I have no excuse. And this one isn’t about being a scared wuss. This about being lazy. Because Europe makes me lazy. Whether its because I tend to be drinking a lot of wine, loading up on fantastic food or just the pace of life gets under my skin but once I land in Paris,Turin, Marseille or even Frankfurt.. I slow down. I meander. I luxuriate in leisure. The idea of getting on a bike and cycling for a week or two.. C’mon. Are you high? Sure I’ll go for a bike ride, I’ll even go for two. But why would I want to sweat it out on the roads of the Pyrenees when I could be drinking Chablis at 2pm while eating poached trout? And if I want to see cycling, I can watch the Tour De France pass through… why on earth would I want to spend days in the saddle? Heads down. Sweat beading between my boobs as I pant my way up a pass? I’m not likely to be looking at the scenery and I’m sure not going to care about what I eat or drink once I’m done… which I always think is the point of Europe. Eating and drinking. Maybe some smoking, but definitely eating and drinking. And sex. And whats the one thing I don’t want to do after a day in the saddle? Yep, you guessed it . Sex. And whats the point of great food, wine and warmth, days without agendas and time to slow down? Sex. Which won’t happen if I’ve had a Specialized between my thighs all day.
Hence, the image of me riding down a road edged by sunflowers or vineyards is idyllic, but it ain’t going to happen. You have at it. I’ll be sitting on the patio with a bottle of Chablis when you’re done.
Ready for all that sex.