Thursday, May 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to the Gadsden Goddess

I want to send out a birthday wish to my cousin Gina today. She turns the big 4-0 and I am sure she appreciates me telling the world. Really, I don't think she's mind. Gina and I grew up together by all accounts. We were and are still very close. We have shared so many memories. But on today, her birthday, I thought I would share my favorite (at her expense). She and I went with a group to take on the rapids of the Ocoee River in Tennessee.

(That's us in the blue coats.)
When the group arrived, we split into two groups. This was ours:

(That's us in the green coats)

It was me and Gina and a bunch of guys. We had the best day laughing at one another. But it was really one instance that stands out. After we had gotten past the rapids; we were all given clearance to get out of our raft and float down the river. I recall it was cold that day and not a one of the guys would get out of the raft. Perhaps is was a man thing (Seinfeld fans-ya know what I'm saying?) I didn't want to get wet. But Gina, ever the adventurous spirit jumped into the river. She had on her life jacket and we all watched as she floated some distance from our raft. Our guide, named Smoke, whispers to those on board, “Hey, let’s have some fun” then he yelled over to Gina, “Gina swim! Rapids! Swim! FAST! SWIMMMM!”
Her face was priceless. She looked like a sea turtle from the life jacket, and because it made her float atop the water she swirled around the creek in the current, as would a leaf. I laughed so hard I cried. I snorted, I couldn't breath. It was then that the guide tossed me out of the boat.
I almost chocked to death from laughing out loud as I hit the water. But still I came up laughing. I swam over to the raft, where Gina had finally made her way-and realized it was a "Smoke joke". The guys all reached their hands over to give she and I both a lift into the raft. I got tickled again at the guys trying to reel Gina and I back on the boat, our life jackets were saturated with water and weighed us down heavily. They could not lift us out of the water. "Help us" they asked of me. But I was dead weight, laughing and useless. I was laughing so hard I had no strength to assist. Somehow they managed to reel us in. By the days end we were all exhausted, but not so much from the river as we were for the laughter aboard our raft that day. It is a day that I will forever remember, it was magical somehow. And even today when I think of it, I still laugh.

To my cousin Gina, may we share many more laughs together through the years. I love you because your family. I cherish you because you are my friend.

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