June 23, 2005

"I've never seen you run away from responsibility, this quickly."

Now that Stephen and I are leaving San Francisco we are seeking out adventure and doing all the risky things we some how couldn't find time to do in the past 10 years. Yesterday six of us ventured out on a good-sized sailboat on the San Francisco Bay with OCSC Sailing. It may be the first time that my friend's actually saw me "lose it" in a way that is all too familiar to Stephen - who stood back and watched me with glee and a smirky smile. Okay, I admit that I amuse myself sometimes, too.

Have you ever held your friends’ lives in your hands, literally? The evening was beautiful, no fog on the Bay, hardly a breeze and actually warm. We ventured out of the Berkeley Marina with our skipper at the wheel and the rest of us sipping wine form plastic cups. But what you don’t know about the Bay, until you’ve been out on the open water, is that it is windy and choppy in the center. It’s much different from being on a commuter ferry. Let’s just say that wine wasn’t a good idea. Everyone taking a turn at the wheel wasn’t so great either.

Stephen is a natural sailor, despite me criticizing his every movement as the side of the boat leaned oh, so, desperately close to the water. But it didn’t prevent flashbacks to Camp Jewell, at age 10, with my buddy Karen Teig, as we capsized our sunfish in the murky pond. No amount of pushing, pulling or jumping on the rudder could turn that boat back over. Flash forward to a significantly larger boat and five more lives to end (don’t be mistaken, Karen survived the camp adventure). Okay, so the Bay is only 10 feet deep and 58 degrees, but ever since doing the California AIDS bicycle ride I only see the potential fatalities and disasters of outdoor adventure.

An hour into the escapade and everyone insisted it was my turn to take the helm. Stephen turned the boat into the wind, facing Point Richmond, and handed control over to me. Conveniently he was given a glass of wine as he sank comfortably into the corner of the boat. Nestled in the other corner was the skipper. Instantly I knew that this was a mistake. I steered left and we went right, I steered right and we went right. Desperate, I begged Stephen to take the wheel but he sat back smiling. Everyone was laughing but all I could see were the headlines, “Rudderless Friend Kills Posse and Escapes to Houston.”

When no one is taking you seriously, and their lives are in your hands, the best thing to do is get serious. “Stephen, take the #&$% wheel now!” I hissed. Okay, fun and games were over. He handed me his wine and we switched places. The definitive comment from one friend, “I’ve never seen you run from responsibility, so quickly.” What does that mean, you’ve seen me run from responsibility before, just not at this pace? Instantly I was the most amusing and memorable highlight of the outing. But that’s okay, I saved everyone’s lives and for that I can sleep better. And no, those weren’t tears; it was suntan lotion in my eyes, thank you very much.