Erin O'daniel is a writer, artist and gender expansive womxn living in Duluth, Minnesota

Wave Running

Balls to the wall. No holds barred. Full tilt. Going all out. Gangbusters.

These phrases, all somewhat slang and focused on pure fucking fun/physicality/pleasure, barely capture my level of glee and abandon when on a jet ski or wave runner. A week ago today I grabbed the opportunity by the horns and ran with it.

I hadn’t been on a 2 stroke engine in more than ten years. The absence of wave runners in my life has been felt and is not due to a lack of effort on my part. Especially for the last three summers, I’d tried my hardest to make it happen on Lake Superior where I live. Finally! eleven hundred miles south and several hundred dollars later I was straddling the small beast and ready to make waves and run water.

There are several things about the experience that induce pure glee and bliss in me. While I love to kayak and stand up paddle board, the power of a motor is like pure crack. At a flick of the wrist or a pull of the throttle I am released. Like Nina Simone’s song (except much less political), all emotional and mental density drifts away.

The greenest parts of my brain find this love affair cringe worthy. Jet skis are environmental disasters and noise pollutants. However, letting go of good-for-the-world logic and goody-two-shoes values for two hours is great for the soul once every decade.

A southern Love put her life in my hands, encircled my waist and I pulled us away from the dock. The wind whipped up super-sized meringue white caps on Lake Lewisville. For the first ten minutes I encouraged us both to focus on our fecund, hip-heavy centers of gravity. Tipping the day’s toy was not on my agenda. We had shorelines to explore! Wakes to crash through! Break neck speeds to reach! Air to catch! Big boats to intimidate!

When on a wave runner or jet ski, I feel one has a license to safely be a hellion. How often do I get to go to that place? Especially living in the hard working, stoic, always reliable, steady come steady go Midwest. I’m a rule breaker by trade, as artist and activist I get to play with “what’s acceptable” by challenging the status quo and resisting authority everyday in my work.

However, there are still too many rules. Everywhere! these lend order yes and simultaneously squelch the soul, stifle our wildest wacky crazee parts. So a day on the water, whooping and hollering and wanting it all, was exactly what I needed. As I maneuvered us out to the bigger part of the lake, the world was anything but quiet, calm, serene. Screaming smiling swerving circling. Faster faster faster.  Chop, stags, other Sunday goers- nothing stood in my way.

We slapped against the blue green surface and sounded off as I tore around sandy inlets. Branches likes big biceps held up the sky as old white oaks stood guard on water front mansions. Undeveloped, marshy inlets invited us to drench ourselves in hot sun and slow just enough to spot egrets, blue herons, mallards, bright Texas wildflowers too.

Like almost everything, it took a bit of time to feel completely comfortable on the wave runner. However, an hour in and my whole body was one with the sultry unruliness of the afternoon. Every winter weather warning, wool layer, work deadline, scheduled heart squelching restriction sunk to the sandy bottom. No more! I was free. I was FREE.

Life in the north and life in the south are very different. I spend most of my creative life trying to find words to illuminate the contrast. I love that I own both realities. Yet crave more opportunities to dig into what matters most below the Mason Dixon line and leave northern propriety all behind.

Running waves is my go to activity to release the weight of the world. Allow it to find lighter ways of knowing itself.

As I pulled us back to the dock just under the minute of our two hour contract, I committed to having more southern fun sooner than next winter. A tour of Texas water parks, North Cackalacky mountains, and queer concerts are on the docket- the sisters to this devilish day on warm water. Northern cold and constrictive conventions go melt yourself. There are funner ways to live!

Blind Batti Hope

Bike Sexual Gender Fucker