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The line between water and sky is two shades of black. Silence hides between the crevices of elements, and I convince myself that I can weigh the air.
I cannot see my body or my paddle or my kayak, but I am kayaking.
The trees’ shadows reflect on the lake like black pawns in a game of chess. Sky, water, darkness: a massive snow globe (give or take the snow). It is eleven p.m. in Commerce, Michigan, and it feels like Sugden Lake is the whole world.
Night kayaking falls under the category of leisure sport. There are no regulations. If I kayaked to the very end, I would not know where to go.
For the first time in my life, I do not have a drawn-out plan. I do not have ambition to reach my destination because I do not have a destination. Realizing that I am a normal teenager with normal teenage fears is not reassuring. I am afraid of being lost (how terrifically mundane). I have always known what I wanted; I am the girl whose greatest cognitive dissonance results from liking books on both poetry and string theory. I like psychedelic rock and greenhouses, Autism research and vintage shops, neurotransmitters and trees. I like the way words taste – like Indian spices, or air. I speak Spanish with my mom, German with my dad, and English with my friends. Opposites are my normal. I find safety in writing poetry at 4 a.m. and watering my pothos plants and listening to Pink Floyd. Yet the end of the lake is unexplored; reaching it requires approaching it, and I am not ready to try either. What am I supposed to call this fear? Girl on kayak afraid of being lost somewhere not on kayak? Area teenager afraid of the other side of the lake?
I should say I went out on my kayak every night and paddled harder and faster and further. I should say I finally conquered my obstacle and made it to the end and flung my arms up in the air and roared in victory to twenty-seven gods, but I didn’t.
This is what happened: the sky turned an odd shade of grey-purple. For some peculiar reason, I felt safe in this unknown strangeness. I wanted to ask questions about a shade of sky I did not understand, and for the first time, these questions were not accompanied by fear.
Color is a night sky that is somehow not-black. Color is what I noticed when I remembered there is a world outside of Sugden Lake, and I am in it.
I began to understand that I should not be afraid of change; I am assembled by change. My nature is a duality between art and science, and I am hungry for unanswered questions.
My grandmother in Mexico tells me stories of a man who healed her with Ayahuasca leaves, and so I purchase books on plant shamanism. A boy from Wyoming says dark matter and art are related. We are mountains of subatomic particles, and there is a turbulent beauty to that. My instructor at poetry camp recites the history of snail sex. Trees are weird, people are weirder, and there’s magic in this world. My palette of different interests has only been broadened by the people I have met, each one under a different color sky. I wonder: what if I would have been too afraid to go?
I still do not know my final destination. I am a girl who was born in Mexico and who now lives in Michigan, and I don’t worry about reaching the middle or the end anymore because kayaking at night is a personal sport.
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