This post is dedicated to JJ, my brother, and anyone else who has parted with a beloved bike, boat, kite, rack, board or other piece of gear
in exchange for other wonderful adventures…
“Hey Anna, maybe it’s time you sold one of your kayaks…..?”
My roommate stood, hands on hips, eyeing up the boats taking up precious space in a garage already crammed full of gear.
“I mean, when was the last time you even used them? Do you really need two?”
She cleared a path to the whitewater playboat and creekboat I had expertly tucked away behind a corner of our garage woody and started dragging them out for closer inspection.
“Hey…stop that!” I instinctively positioned myself between her and the boats.
“They are for two totally different types of kayaking…so YES, I do need two.”
She stared at me for a moment (…I was still physically protecting the boats…), shook her head, turned and picked her way out of the garage.
I turned and looked at the boats affectionately.
Sell my kayaks? No way. Absolutely no.
I started propping them back into the corner.
I mean, yeah, so I haven’t used them in awhile….but I WILL. This season for sure. Definitely.
I positioned a crash pad to conveniently block the view of the boats from the garage door.
The thing is…I knew I probably wasn’t going to use them that season. Or the next.
It wasn’t because I didn’t love kayaking anymore—I was the same me.
It was that life had, unexpectedly, changed around me.
After nearly a decade working in the adventure tourism industry, I decided to follow a different career path. I took a 9-5 job. I moved to a small town 4.5 hours away from whitewater. My paddling friends slowly scattered around the country.
I went from kayaking every other day…to every other weekend…to every other month…to maybe once or twice a season. It happened so slowly, so gradually, that I didn’t even realize I hadn’t been in my boat for over a year until my roommate dragged it across the garage floor that day.
Sell my kayaks?
Okay, so I didn’t really paddle anymore. I talked about it in the past tense, something I used to do. I used to be a kayaker. “Whitewater” no longer made it into my “About Me” descriptions, I couldn’t remember the last time I read Rapid mag, and my “boat rags” t-shirt and boardshorts were in a box somewhere, likely my mom’s basement.
So why did I literally throw my body across my boats at the off-hand suggestion of putting them up for sale?
An experience I had with my brother a million years ago came to mind:
Before he went on his first backpacking adventure, my super-spend-thrift older brother went out and dropped a ton of cash on a brand new, 80L Arc’teryx backpack.
“I did my research…it was the best,” I remember him telling me with a big smile.
And he and the pack went on to have many adventures together around the world.
Fast forward 8 years—my bro is married, has a house, mortgage, 2 kids and a career.
And the Arc’teryx pack accompanies me now on adventures.
After borrowing and returning it for the umpteenth time, I finally asked my brother if I could just keep it.
“No.” He replied curtly.
“I’ll pay you for it if you want,” I said. “I mean, it’s not like you use it anymore.”
His mouth tightened.
“Oh come on! You don’t need it…It’s just going to sit in your basement collecting dust!”
He shot me a sharp look, picked up the bag and walked away.
My sister-in-law came over and put a hand on my shoulder,
“Give him some time Anna,” she said. “He’ll come around.”**
Being older and wiser, I now understand that that 8-year-old pack meant more to my brother than the big-blue-bag-that-held-stuff I coveted. The pack had become a representation—a reminder—of a life before marriage and houses and kids, a life where he was able to drop everything and travel around the world for weeks and months at a time.
And maybe my kayaks were the same?
Did selling my kayaks meant admitting…accepting…that I had changed right along with the life around me? Letting go of the past?
I’ve decided to sell one of my boats.
Because I accept that I’m not going creeking or running a waterfall any time soon.
As for the playboat?
Give me some time. I’ll come around.
(If anyone out there is interested in a Jackson Punkrocker let me know)
** P.S–My brother didn’t officially give me the Arc’teryx pack, but he didn’t ask for it back after the last time I borrowed it. It continues to accompany me on many adventures 🙂