"Do you want to do it, baby?" he asks me.
"I'm not sure," I reply. Hesitant.
"Come on, it will be fun. Ok?" he encourages.
"Ok, but you're driving," I say. Obstinate.
He hands over the credit card and it meets the machine. My eyes, younger, take the receipt, read the tiniest, faintest print, approve the charge, and sign. My hand takes the waiver and signs our names. Both of them. We'll pay for any damages. We won't go out too far. We understand that they are not responsible in the event of accident, injury, or death. Copy all. Yadda yadda. Here's a used life jacket. It conceals my beautiful bikini and I instantly look like a tourist. A dreadful turn of events.
We walk out. My husband in the lead. Always in the lead. Seaweed catches my ankle. I watch him. Easy. He swings one leg over. I approach. He's taller and stronger. I can't quite swing my leg over, so I grab the arm rest, push down, and leap up, springing out of the water, both feet at once, landing on the back of it, like a gymnast sticking a vault.
"I could have pulled it into shallower water for you," says the attendant.
"Why would you do that? I got this," with an air of offense I toss the remark at him, over my shoulder.
My husband, he knows how to operate the equipment. He doesn't need a lesson, but he suffers through it, for the sake of compliance. He isn't listening. I can tell. As soon as the attendant is back on the shore, he pulls the accelerator. Caution be damned. And it begins.
Speed. A throaty roar. A tightened grip around his waist. You were right, baby. This is fun.
We tear off towards the flat line of the horizon with amazing and confident acceleration. Is it any wonder that Columbus thought the world was flat? It's just a continuum, just a flat line that you can never reach. Catch us if you can.
All around us is turbulence. We cut figure eights through the water, we jostle around in our own wake, we straighten and we accelerate more. Holding on tighter. It's time to jump waves.
Picking up speed, we approach, faster faster faster, louder, the engine, and then a roar, and we lift. We rise up as my stomach drops, my body lifts off of the seat, still holding on, silence but for a second, and we're airborne -- until we aren't any longer. And we come crashing down, bouncing off the surface of the water, bouncing and ricocheting, but still holding on. Loud melodious laughter. That laugh that comes from deep in his chest that no one, no one but me, gets to hear. Echoing off the water. And then we're still. Pull the kill switch. Cut the engine. Shhhh.
There isn't anyone else. No other watercraft. No other people. Nothing. Just us. And time stands still. Look around us. Everything is of our own making. The turbulence. The chaos. The adventure. The thrill. The calm. The peace. The partnership. Just the two of us with nothing but salt water as far as the eye can see. And an endlessly flat horizon, tempting us. Inviting us.
"Ok baby. Now you drive," he says as he stands up, steady now, balance, and moves behind me.
"Me?" I ask. Incredulous.
"Yeah baby," he says, "Who else but you?"
I scoot up. I pull the accelerator, lean forward, all in. Determined. Here we go. We race towards the waves, picking up speed, and we're airborne again.
Switching seats one last time, we go faster than ever and we almost dump it. Too far too far too far to the left, and I'm almost thrown off the back. I don't release my grip, so I feel his weight coming with me, but we correct, somehow, without words, we balance it back, and we course correct, and we steady it. And we're still again.
That's how I'll always remember us. That's the memory I choose to keep. Just the two of us, leaping waves and sitting still, drenched in salt water and happiness unrestricted.
Metaphorically, those thirty minutes could be have been our entire lifetime together. Propulsion, force, speed, confidence, arrogance, encouragement, chaos, peace, partnership, balance, and strength. You, me, and an innocent, unsuspecting, jet ski. We gave it the ride of its life.
"Yeah, baby" she smiled, "Who else but you?"