Head Over Heels (In Ice Cold Water)

How did you first know that you were in love?

Zack and I went to Lake Tahoe together for my birthday last year. It was September. The summer was coming to an end as fall took its grasp through means of wind chills and beautifully colored leaves, but this did not stop us from getting our toes wet. We decided to rent a Jet Ski. We were, quite literally, the only people on the water save for a couple of boats.

Zack was first behind the wheel – er, handle bars. He drove for a couple of minutes and then, quite abruptly, stopped and asked me to drive. I was none too happy to take over and hopped into the driver’s seat. Once in place I noticed a large boat throwing a huge wake behind it not too far in front of me. I was thrilled and I gunned the engine, heading straight for it. As I threw our jet ski into the monstrous wave I wondered, briefly, if I should have done so. Was it my imagination, or was Zack clinging to me for dear life, hair blown straight back, teeth chattering, thinking ‘this girl is a crazy!’

If that’s what he was thinking it was too late anyway. We flew into the air for a glorious moment, then back down to the water. I stopped to make sure Zack wasn’t about to jump off the back and start doing the breast stroke towards shore. When I realized he was laughing, and laughing hard, I, too, collapsed in giggled before gunning the engine again. (I should have known better, Zack lives for adventure.) This time there was no hesitation as I threw our beast into the wake, lake water creating a beautiful arch for sunlight to peak through above us. Again, peals of laughter as we flew out of the spray on the other side. I completely forgot my moment of uncertainty the first go around. Flipping the Jet Ski once more, I was determined to make this one the biggest jump yet. I gave myself more room and hit the gas hard. Once in the air I turned the bars slightly so as to create a whip effect once landed. It worked – we smacked the surface and spun around, and suddenly – Zack was gone. Uh-oh… my original hesitation returned. I was prepared to apologize. “Yes, it’s was reckless. I’m sorry… you’re right, someone could get hurt. Absolutely… you drive.”

I was rehearsing my apology in my head when Zack popped out of the water, scanned around until making eye contact with me, and then burst into laughter, harder than before. Whew!

I don’t think Zack or I stopped laughing the entire time we were on the water that day. It’s one of my best memories with him. I didn’t find out until later he saw the day in a slightly different light.

Zack and I hopped onto the Jet Ski, him driving, and headed out onto the choppy, cold lake. He was already thinking that I was a sport for squeezing into a wetsuit and being brave enough to face the chilly water when he saw a boat – a large boat. Of course the first thing in his head was “I want to jump that wake!” but then he remembered me. What would I think of him? Not sure what to do, he stopped and requested that I drive. Would I drive a cautious 10 MPH? Or would I brave it and give it a little gas? He was wondering all of this when suddenly, with a lurch, I hit the throttle. To his surprise and delight I was headed, not out towards the open lake as he imagined, but straight for the very wake he had seen. He clutched onto my vest, eyes widened, as we hit the wave. She didn’t even hesitate! He started laughing and didn’t stop as we flew into the air, wake after wake, jump after jump. He was still laughing when suddenly he realized “I’m upside down!” He flew off the Jet Ski and did a cartwheel, leg, arm, head, arm, leg skimming the water, then finally his entire body was under the icy surface. As he sank in the frigid water he thought one thing:

“I love her.”

And yet he didn’t tell me until months later.

What’s your story? I’d love to hear!