I look at my friend Ian, mild panic bubbling up. They think we’re a couple! But before I can clarify that Ian and I are just friends, the guide has moved on, assigning the other members of our group to kayaks before we head out into the Broken Group Islands for a four-day adventure. In retrospect, I should have spoken up right away, because after that it was difficult to find the right time or place to announce, “Oh, and by the way, Ian and I are not a couple. Really. We’re just friends.”
Ian and I met the usual way I meet men: through an online dating site. We connected through Plenty of Fish and engaged in a playful and racy email correspondence which Ian, wisely, called to a halt. “We need to meet each other before this goes any further,” he wrote.
It took us about 15 minutes to recognize that we were really not long-term partner material: he’s a vegetarian; I love a juicy steak. He doesn’t drink; I believe wine should be its own food group. He doesn’t own a vehicle; I live a 45 minute drive from him. He knew before he was 20 that he didn’t want children; I have three of them. Yoga, for Ian, is a daily necessity; I just drop into a class often enough to justify my Lululemon yoga gear addiction. He lives a pretty unconventional life style; my middle name is conventional.
But in that same 15 minute time span, we also realized that there was all kinds of potential for a great friendship. I love Ian’s sense of humour, his commitment to speaking honestly, and his perspective on relationship, which is often radically different than my own. And so when he called me up and mentioned that he was looking for another adventure this summer, I piped up immediately: “I’m your girl!”
Which is how we ended up on the kayaking trip together. As we set out in the big, slow double, we were both a bit disgruntled, but the guides promised to mix things up each day, so we knew we’d get our time in the singles. And so we spent the day paddling together, and discussing our favourite topic: relationships. (We can spend hours analyzing our past and current relationships, and exploring our own philosophies about relationship. I know. It’s a little odd).
We enjoyed ourselves that day in the double, but we were both really happy to kayak the next day in singles. As we set out on our second day, I realized how much I love the sense of independence one has in a single kayak. I was able to set my own pace, steer my own boat, and decide where I wanted to go and with whom I wanted to paddle. Looking over at Ian, a serene expression on his face, I realized he was equally happy.
Paddling over to him, I said, “I think the single kayak might be a metaphor for my life right now. I like being on my own, setting my own course, deciding where I want to go and what I want to do.” We laughed about how paddling a double is like being in a relationship. There’s all that team work and compromise, and the petty irritations that arise between partners. “Maybe I’m just supposed to be single for a while,” I mused.
Except, of course, the rest of the group was still under the impression that Ian and I were an item. And our impromptu yoga session the next morning probably didn’t help. I woke up in the tent, every muscle from my shoulders to my wrists aching. Ian, who you might recall loves his yoga, sat up, still half in his sleeping bag, and started stretching. I followed along, pushing my arms out in front of me, and then stretching them over my head, and then pulling them behind me. Anyone walking past our tent that morning would just have heard the commentary:
“Oh my god, that feels good.”
“Oh, yeah, baby!”
“Mmmmm, that feels amazing….”
“Ohhhhhhh, just a little longer, okay?”
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