I went to the river yesterday with some friends and half of Santa Rosa. Walls of trees, cars and fences greeted us along a small, beaten roadway. The frustration of tiny parking spaces and distance prompted both Ryan (my boyfriend) and AJ to return to the river’s entry point. Carrying all the river toys and a dog was at the bottom of our list, so Amanda, Sarah, Joel, Toby and I were thrown out of the cars as AJ and Ryan went to hunt for open parking spaces.
My right hand gripped a small red cooler and my left hand held the leash of an overly excited dog. The deflated, yellow rafts that were once comfortable on my shoulder slid down into the crease of my arm as I braced for the ride down the narrow, dirt-covered path. As the leash tightened, my brown flip flops cut into the tops of my feet, and I began my slow fight with Toby down the hill. Toby’s green and brown polka dotted collar pressed against his throat prompting a symphony of chocking and wheezing; his brown, fluffy muscular body stretched 4 feet in front of me and my feet—incapable of staying still—beat the ground, quickly and inconsistently. It wasn’t until I was halfway down the hill that Amanda grabbed the tight, black leash to help lessen the intensity of what could have been my death (or at least an uncomfortable afternoon).
After locating ourselves at semi-open beach spot, I went and stood in the river with Toby. Toby, never having been to the river, took the opportunity to utilize the space to the best of his ability. He peed; he swam; he greeted people; he swam some more; he got out of the water; he got back into the water; he ultimately attempted to poo in the water—that I wouldn’t let happen. So, instead of pooing in the water, Toby ran up the small, gravelly embankment to park his fluffy butt next to a group of people (that was a fun apology). When his business was complete, Toby went to tackle the same few activities in a repeated cycle.
The river flowed smoothly splashing against my waist; people floated by on their boats. Small fish snuck past my toes and children made it their business to cover the passerby with water. Turns were taken drifting down the river; Amanda and Sarah disappeared floating aimlessly with the current. It wasn’t long before the guys followed suite. I stood my ground and watched my friends disappear around the river’s bend, while Toby spent all of his energy swimming upstream.
My friends returned walking against the current with the boats dragging behind them. Warm rays prompted me to join the masses, so I grabbed my yellow boat, passed the dog to Ryan and set down the river with Sarah, Amanda and Joel. Impatience landed me in the water quickly. I anchored my torso on the boat’s side: my legs dragged inconsistently on the river’s bottom as water snuck past my waist filling the space where I sat moments before. To save my boat from a quick death, I jumped in the water and used the access to cover my friends.
All in all, my day was memorable. I had been invited to revisit summers of my past. Several remarkable vacations were spent travelling down the Truckee River with my sister and father. Fighting rapids, playing on embankments and watching hoards of people were an immediate must of our yearly adventures. Those moments leading up to sunburns and tired evenings were consistent and unbiased. Even as I grew older, I searched for the simplicity of those days. I searched for the uncomplicated mess and understanding (the type of understanding foreign to many); I searched to share those memories with friends that I care about (of course, Toby counts).
The Russian River has now carved its way into my existence (and, hopefully, my friends will agree). Before this summer has ended, I’m sure you will find me floating aimlessly—with beer and friends—along the river’s current making new memories to hold closely with the old.