I feel like I draw the Page of Wands more than any other card. Honestly.
I’m not surprised that he’s appeared again, though. He’s all creativity, adventure, and youthful enthusiasm. He’s good news and fast messages. In career readings, he might mean a work trip. In love readings, he’s playfulness and vacations.
So, considering this past weekend’s adventures, I kind of figured he’d turn up soon.
My partner and I want to go kayaking one of these days, by which I mean “he wants to go kayaking, and I am figuring out ways to cover every tragedy that can possibly happen while kayaking.” I don’t do super well with the sun beating down on me, so summer isn’t my ideal time for outdoor sports. The couple of weeks between the beginning of September and the end of October are perfect for me. There’s only one problem: htf do you kayak?
I mean, I get it. Sit in the boaty part, do the paddles, motion happens. I have had to row things before. Still, there’s something about the thought of taking a kayak out on a river that makes my throat tense up.
(That thing is anxiety disorder. Even with medication and a great therapist, some of it sticks around.)
I feel like kayaking would be fun, on a conceptual level. Neither of us have ever done it before, so I have automatically adopted the position of Learning Everything That Can Go Wrong and Preemptively Thwarting It.
(Incidentally, while this is doubtless one of my more annoying traits, it also makes me fantastic on road trips. Need Benadryl? A tampon? A snake venom extraction kit? A small fire extinguisher? Emergency backup water? A convenient source of potassium? I’ve got you. I prepare for everything like it’s the first ten minutes of an action movie where we end up on an island infested with crocodiles.)
My partner says, “Let’s go price kayaks this w-,” and before he can even say “-eekend,” my brain’s off to the races. We’ll need life vests, for one. That’s obvious. Swimsuits — no, wetsuits, since the water won’t be as warm as it would be in July. Water shoes. A waterproof bag to hold stuff. Lessons. What if I lose my ID? I’ll write my identifying information on myself in case I drown. What if we accidentally go over a dam and one of us breaks something? I’ll have to bring a bandana I can use to make a sling. Do I remember how to give first aid for a spine or neck injury? What if I fall in the water and the cold knocks the wind out of me? It happened at summer camp once, and I wasn’t allowed to swim after that. (Fortunately, what I lacked in ability-to-breathe-in-cold-water, I made up for in ability-to-spot-and-subsequently-escape-from-bears-that-got-to-the-blueberry-patch-before-I-did.)
When I was five, my grandparents took me to the beach. I splashed and played happily, but, when my grandma noticed that I’d gone a little too far out and called me back, I couldn’t return. Caught in the undertow, I floundered and sputtered until someone had to come drag me out and do whatever they do to kids they’re afraid will dry drown. As clearly as I remember the helpless feeling of being caught in the current, everything after that is like someone smeared my memories with Vaseline.
Years later, my grandpa was careful to keep me out of the waves. He always fished a lot, and I used to love sitting by the buckets of fish he brought home, seeing what kind of hitchhikers had snuck into the water. Sometimes I’d find a tiny crab, or a snail, or even a sea urchin.
Finally, one day, he decided he’d teach my siblings and me to fish and set crab traps. The other kids were too young to sit and wait for a bite, so they mostly spent the day running around and dropping bait down each other’s shirts. While they did that, I felt a bite on one of the bamboo poles. My tiny heart pounding with excitement, I reeled in my catch. Was it a flounder? A salmon? A tuna? Maybe it was a shark.
To this day, I’m not sure. Nobody was able to definitively identify what I pulled up from the depths.
I’m reminded of Eddie Izzard’s bit about the Biblical flood. If it was supposed to cleanse the Earth of evil, there must have been a lot of evil fish and ducks left over.
This fish was silvery. It had spiny fins that flared out like claws, and a long, undershot jaw full of pointed, mean-looking teeth. It thrashed with the strength of something several times its size and, when we put it in the bucket with the rest of our catch, the results were… bad. It didn’t seem like it had much meat on it, either — whatever biological real estate it possessed seemed to be taken up entirely by teeth, spines, and hate.
While it churned the water in the bucket and snapped at the air in fury, Grandpa suggested throwing it back. My tiny child eyes immediately welled up with tears.
“But… I caught it. It’s my fishy.”
I was formulating plans for filling my kiddie pool with table salt and hose water so I could keep it, maybe befriend it through some kind of piscine Stockholm Syndrome. Unfortunately, it died on the way home (as fish in plastic Home Depot buckets are wont to do). I kept it in the freezer for several months afterward, like some kind of incredibly creepy trophy. Sometimes, I’d chase my brother around the house with it. Every so often, I’d take it out to look at it and feel a tiny, bone-deep, neanderthal thrill of survival, as if this dead fish was an assurance that I’d be able to live on a deserted island for a really long time if I needed to.
I have not been fishing again.
It would probably surprise you to find out that I’m a devotee of Manannán mac Lir. It surprised the shit out of me when I finally came to that realization, I’ll tell you that much.
The Page of Wands means news and adventures. And now we’re going kayaking. Hopefully the devotee thing counts for something, because, after surviving almost drowning and whatever the hell I put in that fish bucket, I would not want to explain to my seafaring ancestors that I died in three feet of water because I kayaked wrong.
“Sure,” I reply, “This weekend.”