I slurp the icy Pina Colada through the straw and stringy bits become threaded between my teeth. Just then, I watch him swagger by SHIRTLESS. Every muscle in his shoulders and arms ripples as he strides by with confidence in every step. Mouth gaping, I stare at his tanned, chiseled abs.
Damn. I knew I should have gone with a one piece. I am an aquatic mammal nicknamed Ms. Beluga minus the perpetual toothy smile stretched out here on the Hawaiian beach.
Please don’t notice me. Please don’t notice me. Oh no, he’s noticed me. But I’m certain not in a good way.
Or, maybe he has?
“Hi,” he says, “are you using the copier?”
“What?” I stammer spinning around wildly to face the voice behind me. Embarrassingly, I now know that my printing job may have finished some time ago and I’ve been busted staring blankly at the copier.
“Yes! But all done now!” I blurt out triumphantly and with a glowing smile. It’s my best effort to convince Mr. Davidson that I was NOT daydreaming.
Quickly, I reach for my papers and then with a swoosh, watch helplessly as they sail down fanning out across the worn blue carpeted floor. “Damn,” I unconsciously mutter as my face burns from so many corporate blunders.
Mr. Davidson is one of the nicest people in our office but has no resemblance to the man I imagined on the beach: red-rimmed glasses, long wavy dark hair that’s peppered with grey, and his beard looks like it longs to be trimmed. On this particular day, Mr. Davidson is wearing a plaid shirt with green pants. Nice man that he is, he helps me gather my pages while chatting with me about a new restaurant that just opened.
I want to disappear. There must be a way to assemble these pages to form a boat so that I can sail away to Hawaii. RIGHT NOW. Of course, my lack of an engineering degree may prove problematic in the construction. Then there’s the other issue that the paper is much too thin. I’m certain I would sink.
Parachute strapped on my shoulders, goggles on my eyes, cold wind pushes me backwards onto the plane. I vaguely remember some instructions about pulling some chord but can’t recall the specifics. Right now, I am too busy holding onto the edge of the plane and screaming to no one in particular, “For heaven’s sake’s! I can do this!”
Suddenly, some random clip I saw years ago floods my little brain: I’m remembering back to an incident involving an eighty-year-old woman who attempted a tandem jump and slipped out of the parachute. Thank goodness it didn’t end badly for her but…
“Sarah, have you submitted your report?” my manager, Esmeralda, asks. (I’m really not kidding. That’s her name.) Her voice snaps me back to my current location: and that current spot is my stagnant, dry-aired workstation with the black blinking cursor that signals the report is still a work in progress. With two lines written, it’s a barely-there report.
How does she do that? Every time I’m drifting off into fantasy land she comes in and literally “pops” my thought bubble. No fun permitted at work, should be Esmeralda’s work motto. I could make her a bumper sticker. I’m sure she has a webcam on me.
“Not yet,” I hesitate and continue, “but it will be ready in the next ten minutes,” I say in my most authoritative, in-control voice, and with my broadest smile. She frowns at me and she instantaneously looks ninety-nine years old as wrinkles crack throughout her face before she saunters out the same way she came in without a further word.
Clearly, she’s impressed with me.
“Yes, why don’t people start early with their bucket lists,” I grumble as I stare at the flashing cursor. I breathe out hard and then try to inhale refreshing air. But it can’t be found here. I sigh. Then I punch at the keys in front of me in an effort to write my delinquent report.
It’s late July and I am in Churchill, Manitoba. The temperature is around 18 degrees Celsius and it feels more like a warm spring day than the middle of summer. I am prepping my kayak! I am so excited! FINALLY! I will be kayaking with beluga whales! They are nicknamed “sea canaries” because of the constant whistling, chirping, and clicking sounds that they are famous for making. There are tens of thousands of them out there as they come up to feed, give birth, and take care of their young in the Churchill River. Or so, the “Town of Churchill” website said. It will be a beluga sing-along party.
Belugas have mushroom white faces that are long and yet, round at the same time. Also, they ALWAYS look like they’re smiling. They have the smallest teeth on any whale I’ve ever seen. I ADORE THEM. It seems impossible that they could bite you. Even if they did – their teeth are so small it would probably be like a puppy biting you. Now that I think about it a bit more, sometimes when puppies bite it hurts. They have razer-sharp teeth.
Never mind. Belugas can’t hurt anyone! JUST LOOK AT THEM!
With that, I step my right foot into the kayak and it lists heavily to the right side. I try to step in again but the whole kayak shifts under my weight. I step back. This kayak seems a little tipsy and I’ve never been kayaking before. I have gone snorkeling…
Let’s change that. I’m standing in front of a mirror in a black, ultra-tight dry suit that I can barely breathe in; but it’s worth it to go snorkeling with the sea canaries. Advantage: it’s much more intimate. Why wouldn’t I get as close to the belugas as possible? I’ll never get this chance again.
Another benefit of snorkeling: I have full coverage on my body. While I can’t breathe, the suit does hold in all my jelly rolls. The best part – NO UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT INVOLVING A BIKINI! My mind drifts a bit and I start to wonder, can belugas accidentally bump you and kill you?
“Sarah, are you ready for lunch?” My best friend Rachel swings her head over my work station startling me. She stares at me inquisitively with her famous Han Solo lop-sided smile as she asks, “Daydreaming again, my friend?”
“Yes,” I mope.
“Where do you want to go today?” I ask her reluctantly.
“Same place as usual?”
“Of course,” I flatly respond.
Damp moisture invades my body and sends a small chill down my spine. The wind blows against my face sweeping my hair off my shoulders and it dances on the wind. Large soft snow flakes fall on me and this beautiful city. I am standing at the top of the Empire State building in New York City just before 1 am. With the snow it works in unison with the events that I experienced today to signal the start of the Christmas season.
I look across the city with lights that seem to wink in acknowledgement of me, the first-time traveller. It has been a perfect day: prime viewing of the Macy’s Christmas parade, Ellen’s Stardust Diner for turkey dinner, AND THE WAIT STAFF SANG TO US! I watch the new fallen snow blanket the city coating the buildings with what look like marshmallows, brightening a little more, this already bright city.
“Sarah,” Rachel turns and looks at me. She continues saying, “They’ll be closing the building soon. We need to go.”
“Alright,” I say dreamily.
Rachel stares at me for a long moment, tilting her head, and then she turns to face the New York skyline too. Finally, she turns again to me and says, “Any thoughts on where we should go for breakfast? I’m hungry!”
Still staring out at the view in front of me, I whisper, “Anywhere.”