In keeping with my decision to blog every day of the Feast of Tabernacles, I’m going to share a story from a previous Feast for today’s post. I originally wrote this account to read aloud in a creative non-fiction class in 2011. The only thing I’ve edited from that version is changing the guys’ names, and my sister asked for her name to be taken out.
It was so hot in Panama City Beach that my glasses would steam up stepping outside from the air conditioned hotel. My family was there two years ago, in the fall, meeting with a church group that had chosen Florida as the location to observe the week-long Feast of Tabernacles, one of our annual Holy Days. Just a couple days into the Feast, my sister and I met two brothers, Quentin and Declan. Somehow, in the course of our conversation, the idea of kayaking on a nearby lagoon came up. Not entirely comfortable going anywhere with two guys we’d hardly known more than an hour, I was trying to politely refuse when Quentin suggested our whole family come. Well, surely he couldn’t be that dangerous if he was willing to include our Dad, Mom, and younger brother, so my sister and I agreed to the plan and invited the two brothers to eat lunch with our family in the condominium.
Of course, something had to go wrong. Mommy sliced her finger open on a can of pineapple, not too seriously, but enough to keep her from kayaking. Since she was laid-up, Daddy and my brother also stayed behind and my sister and I set out with Quentin and Declan. We split the cost of kayak rentals, but still, (or so my mother informs me) it was my first “date” as well as my first time kayaking. As it turned out, I enjoyed the kayaking part a lot more than the “dating” part. Quentin and I shared one kayak, and Declan and my sister shared the other. Both brothers had quickly lost interest in my sister after learning she was under 18, and I learned later that Declan and my sister hardly spoke the whole kayaking venture. By the time we got back to the hotel, I was convinced that lagging conversation would have been preferable to mine and Quentin’s discussion.
The kayaking adventure began promisingly. We watched pelicans ungracefully plop into the ocean and laughed at terns diving like missiles honing in on fish in the water below. The water was so clear you could look through the ripples and see fish swimming through snaky sea-grass while crabs skittered along the sandy bottom. Occasionally, a fish would randomly leap from the water, as if it was so happy to be alive that simply swimming was no longer enough and it had to take flight.
We had stopped paddling for a moment to take in the scenery when Quentin suddenly asked, “Have you heard of the book The Five Love Languages?”
I drew out my “Yes…?” like a question, which he took as permission to reveal that his love language was “Quality Time.” Then, as if the conversation were not awkward enough already, he went on to explaining that he particularly liked time spent with someone in a natural setting.
You mean like a lagoon in Florida, alone with someone you met just THREE HOURS AGO? I thought while mumbling something non-committal. Picking up my paddle, I cut short the conversation by steering our kayak back towards my sister’s and Declan’s kayak, vowing there was no way I was going to tell Quentin one of my primary love languages was “Touch”.