A flood of nerves rushed over me as I floated in the cool water of Lake Powell, waiting for my dad to bring the ski rope to me.
It had been years since I last slalom skied, and I wondered if I still had it.
With my dad’s 1970s Joby ski snugly on my right foot, I carefully tucked my knee up to my chest. I let my left foot dangle, gripped the handle tightly and hesitantly yelled, “hit it.”
Just as he had done a hundred times before, my dad eased on the gas as I pulled the rope as hard as I could. I pushed my right heel into the water, parting it as I hung on. And with my left leg still dragging to keep me steady, I balanced enough to tuck it into the sleeve on the back of the ski.
I was up.
At that moment, I thought of the summer when I turned 13. My dad took me and my two older siblings out every morning for a week as we all tried to get up on one ski.
The transition from two skis to one was very different. With two skis, I could hold on, sit back and enjoy the ride. One ski? Now, that was something I had to work for.
All that work paid off, as I learned to venture outside the wake, just like my dad did. He would zip across the wake, leaning back and dipping down, creating the perfect rooster tail in the water behind him. I remember watching him as he let go with his outside hand while at the same time whipping his head in the opposite direction, as if to signal where he was headed next.
He would then hold tightly to the rope and pull himself back and forth across the wake and back again, until he couldn’t go anymore. He would then let go with both arms, wave to us and sink down into the water.
This time, my own kids were watching. Would they think the same thing about me?
As I made my way back and forth across the wake, I found myself getting more and more comfortable. I dipped down just as Dad did, parting the lake and feeling the water hit up against my lower calf. A few more times out on the ski, and I would be sure to have a bruise there. But I didn’t care.
I looked ahead and saw that the boat was getting closer to land. This meant only one thing: whipping time! Sure enough, my dad put his hand in the air, making a circling motion with his arm, letting me know he was about to make a sharp turn.
I crossed over to the right side, pulling as tightly as I could to get even with the boat, gaining speed as I went. As I drew even, I was able to look at my husband and kids. Emotion swelled up as I realized how much I missed water skiing, and how much it made me feel like me.
However, my lack of grip strength, and the fact that I had run a marathon only a few days before, made my body feel fatigued.
With my eyes still on my children, and theirs on mine, I smiled and waved just as my dad did, letting go with both hands and sinking down to the water.
I am eagerly awaiting another turn on the water. And next time, I hope to have my own kids join me for a ski.
(Arianne is a mother of six and a lover of all things, even the common housefly. Her downtime is spent running the trails of the Wasatch Mountains and beyond. Contact her at email@example.com or search her Facebook page, “A Mother’s Write.”)