Walking Through the Past

May 22, 2008
By Kristin Horn, Ephrata, PA

Walking fast down the path, trying to make it to the beach before dark, I see the trees ahead begin to clear and the view of the sparkling bay begins to peek through their leaves. As I get to the end of the path I reach the long, grassy parkway that sets right before the hill and dips steeply down leveling off onto the beach. I stop and sit on one of the benches and look out at the bay, and the many little boats rushing back to their docks trying to get back before night overtakes the bright, orange sky. Seeing all of the boats on the water, I begin to remember one of my more terrifying moments boating.

Loosely gripping the steering wheel of the small red speed boat, I yawn as it slowly glides across the Chesapeake Bay. My mother and Craig lounge in the back seats, while Bryce and Alexis stand next to me as I steer the boat lazily through slow and steady waves. “Man, I’m bored. I think I’m gonna go faster,” I say plainly.

“Go for it,” Alexis encourages, and I reach over and grip the throttle and give the little boat more gas. Gaining speed, I begin gripping the wheel tighter, and start to notice the tiny plastic bottles floating around in the bay.

“Great, crab traps,” I coolly say, “But I’m not slowing down.” As we travel further from the mainland the traps begin to increase in number and I skillfully weave the speeding boat through the growing number of nuisances. Finally the traps begin to clear, and I decide to accelerate even more. Gliding over the bay, the vessel leaps and bounds over the waves and everyone seems to be having a good time.

Suddenly, I notice a large patch of waves coming straight for the side of the boat. Daringly, I aim the boat directly facing the waves, hoping that we get some air off of the large oncoming wake. As we hit each wave the boat digs into it, and we fly up in the air, and land with a crash into the foamy, green water. “Shouldn’t we slow down?” Alexis asks, the waves now growing larger and more unstable.

“Nah, we’ll be fine,” I answer, beginning to grow unsure myself. One after another the large waves pound the boat, sending it up higher with each wave, only to have it crash back into the relentless bay violently. Now realizing the risk, I reach for the throttle, but it’s already too late.

Just then a huge whitecap catches the side of the boat, hurling it wildly to one side nearly capsizing it. Holding the wheel tight and turning it fighting to keep the boat upright, I pull back hard on the throttle slowing the boat to a stop. “Stupid!” I think to myself, “I was overconfident.” Letting out a sigh of relief I slowly sink into the driver’s seat, my face now flushed red with embarrassment. “Why does it seem like every time I drive this thing, I end up almost tipping it,” I whimper and return to my feet, take hold of the wheel with my white knuckled hands, and slowly speed the boat back up again.

Realizing the sun has nearly ducked completely below the horizon, I emerge from my memory. I now know that it’s the little experiences like these that shape you the most and if you take the time to remember them you can learn from your past mistakes and grow.

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