That's right, Terry* and Bryan (my parents), brace yourself for the story I am about to tell the world.
THE BIRTHDAY WHERE I ALMOST DIED.
Growing up really close to Baltimore, of course my family had a boat and most weekends we were out on it fishing and swimming. Since my birthday is at the end of August (and basically isn't August like the Sundays of summer?), we went out for one last outing before school started the next week.
After we came back into the marina and docked, my mom realized half-way up the floating dock that she'd left my two-year-old brother's diaper bag in the boat. Being the birthday girl, she of course trusted me to run back and get it.
With each bounce of the dock under my feet, I'd been so proud. First, I was eleven which felt very grown up (which would wear off as soon as my doomed period would come that fall and I'd whither into an emotional mess of WHY ME. GOD, WHY ME). Plus, I'd been trusted to go back to the boat all by myself. I leaped back into the boat and grabbed the diaper bag. Now the tricky part...navigating between the considerable gap between the boat and the dock (made even wider from my awesome leap).
I tossed the diaper bag onto the dock, and wobbily balanced on the side of the boat. Even though I spied the puddle of water on the dock, I still leapt for it anyway (hey! I was eleven. No one said I had a fully formed brain).
I slipped. I fell. I splashed down in the two foot gap between the dock and the boat. When I came up, gasping for air, I reached up, but because of the low tide, my fingers couldn't grasp the edge of the dock. Barnacles covered the poles holding the dock up, and I sure as hell wasn't touching them...EVEN IF MY LIFE DEPENDED ON IT. Because barnacles...yeeeeeew! >_<
Treading water, I tried to think of a plan. Here I was in dirty bay water wedged in a hole where no one could see me and then I remembered....THERE WERE ALSO JELLYFISH IN THIS WATER.
You guys--jellyfish. *shiver*
My sister and I always leaned off the deck and tried to poke them with sticks. I was sure they would come for me. They would seek their revenge. I was going to die.
There was only one thing to do. Humiliated, I called for help.
I tried a polite, "Help?" And when I realized no one was going to hear that, I went for the helpless scream. "HELLLLLLLP!!"
Moments later, a man ran down the dock with a pole and fished me out of the water. My mother, completely traumatized (and continues to be so whenever I tell this story--SORRY MOM, I NEEDED BLOG CONTENT!), came running with my Dad. Meanwhile, all I could do was say "THERE WERE JELLYFISH. I KNEW THERE WOULD BE JELLYFISH!" Ugh. Jellyfish.
We never went back to that marina. Not until this summer when my Dad got a new boat. In May, I stood on the dock close to where I once fell and Dad asked me if I was going to have PTSD flashbacks of that day. The funny thing is that when I was a teenager, I'd break into a cold sweat about it. It was possibly the most traumatic incident of my childhood and maybe my entire life.
I suppose the moral of the story is...sometimes you forget to let go of things and they let go for you. Or something like that.
Or, just, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
*Mom, I swear. I'm fine. It wasn't your fault and I really only like telling this story for the entertainment factor. You did nothing wrong. I'm okay. Go back to playing Words with Friends.