"Stop! the area ahead has the worse tourism in America. Many have suffered from over exposure, especially in summer. Turn back at the first sign sign of goofers." Well that wasn't a good sign. Metaphorically and literally.
"Guys, maybe this is a bad idea." I say shakily. People, ugg. But as usual the group ignores my suggestion. Everyone already has their bathing suits on and towels wrapped around their neck, including me. There is no stopping them now.
There is a short trail through the woods to get to the swimming hole, which results in more bug bites than I had bargained for. I walk behind the group quietly, as they laugh and talk. As we get closer to the swimming hole I start hearing the nosies of people. I cringe at the sounds of laughter and small children screaming. Why had I agreed to this outing? Then we get to where the river has dug itself into a deep bowl of water that has become the swimming hole for all the locals, and tourists that visit the area.
Parents and their children linger at the edges, and teenagers fling themselves off story high rocks, the smacking sounds of their bodies hitting the water resound through the area. A few of the more reckless teens in my groups throw their towels on tree branches and climb the high rocks. The other, less reckless friends wade into the water, crying out about how cold it is. I linger for a minute, before decided against swimming. I find a rock to sit on, close enough to the water that I can still hear the group, but far enough away they don't feel like they should or have to include me. So I sit and do what I'm good at; observing.
Now my friend Vincent is on top of the jumping rock. "Crissy!" He yells in my direction. When he see's me look up he yells again. "Watch this!" With that he does a back flip, off the rock, his head amazingly close to hitting the the stone. I stiffen in fear, and do not relax until he springs back up from hitting the water. It's a miracle he hadn't hit anyone on impact, with all those people in the water.
Vincent swims to the shore, then walks - dripping water everywhere - up to me. "You look bored." He states. I shrug. It's not entirely untrue. "Why don't you come swimming?" he suggests.
"Nooooo." I whine. "its to cold." I cross my arms over my chest and fake a shiver for exaggeration.
"Please." He tries.
"No." I say
"I'll make you."
I snear. "Yeah right."
He throws his hands in the air. "Fine! Be that way." He then walks back to the water, but I can tell by his loose gait that he doesn't really care if I swim or not.
I wonder briefly if I always do this at group outings. Sit out, be a stick in the mud, and watch everyone else have fun. It occurs to me that people might just invite me out of sympathy. I wonder what the looks on all my friends faces would be if I did something crazy. I watch more and more of my friends throw themselves off the rock.
Some pencil dive, others spread and flap their arms, some do front and back flips, or canon balls, and one even strikes a superman pose going down before splashing everyone.
As they keep going I keep doubting myself, even more than I usually do. And I feel a draw to the jumping rock. I'm not sure if I am afraid of heights, or drops, because I've never really pushed myself that far.
As if I am possessed, I stand, and walk slowly to the jumping rock. I find myself waiting my turn, and climbing up to the top. From the shore I hear Vincent whoop and holler my name. Then I'm at the top. What the hell am I doing up here? The wind threatens to push me over, and the line behind me grows. I look down at the water below me. It is so clear and I can see the bottom, even though it has to be at least eight feet deep. I couldn't see the bottom from the shore. I take a breath, then jump.