Kayaking & Russian

Heading In
On a total lark, drove up to Sausalito with Tink and met up with some college alum for full moon paddle. I only knew one guy – Paul Anderson who is a brilliant songwriter – and ended up having a great time and (hopefully) making good friendships. What stuck with me all night, through dreams and now into morning:
– falling in the water on my kayak
– the hostess addressing me in Russian

So if you spoke a language rather reasonably at one point in your life, and now have forgotten almost all of it, when someone speaks to you in this language it’s cognitively like that great Hitchcock photography technique of zooming in on an object while backing the camera away (this is also used to describe what folks with astygmatism see).

So my subconscious could not get away from those four words or so she said: something like, “Thanks for making yourself at home!” I was unwrapping some paper plates because there weren’t any more available. She spoke in really clear Russian. Not like a native, but not with an awful American accent. Both her and her husband had, separately, lived in Russia and they now visit there frequently for work. He was joking earlier that he gets teased in St. Petersburg (he said Leningrad!) for having a Siberian accent- the ultimate compliment really, that you’ve lost your American one. We had discussed both living in the Russian House on campus so it wasn’t surprising that she spoke to me, but for some reason my mind wanted to dwell on this the entire evening and all night in dreams. I watched a russian Sherlock Holmes I’d recorded to see if my skills got any better, and I think they may have. Cobaka- dog! Koshka- kitten! This, on a day that I forgot how to say Thank You in Chinese (xie xie).

Falling in the water was hilarious. I had picked out a sit-on-top and was on their dock- they live on a houseboat. I had swiveled my hips out to the boat, that was fine. I had the paddle across my knee stabilizing myself against the dock like my sister had taught me so many years ago in Annapolis. But, then, we were joking and I was backing up and voila, tipped myself into the drink. I was kind of surprised as I grabbed onto the wooden dock, but then two guys were trying to haul me up, and I finally was laughing so hard I’m sure I was dead weight. Finally threw a leg up and climbed out. It’s MUCH warmer water than Aquatic Park, I can say that. Went out on a two-person kayak, because the host no longer believed I could kayak, for good reason! We went out at dusk, not really at night, as it was cloud covered and pretty black out when it did roll around. Usually we sail by these houseboat piers, but this time kayaking you get a nice expanded view of the area. They have a little water plaza and a neighbor actually docks his sailboat right up against the houseboat. The host noted that usually these folks don’t care a lot about their boats as they run aground every day when the tide goes out. The seals were out on the bay, piled along some piers parallel to the channel, and they were all chatty and groaning. One of them had nudged a kayak earlier that night so we didn’t get too close. They’re in the photo above, along that wooden horizontal pier in the background.

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