10 years ago today, I met Carl, and my life changed forever.
10 years ago today, I stumbled out of bed after a night of Halloween Festivities, and drove the long drive from Kent State to OhioPyle to kayak on the Lower Yough. I didn't have anyone to boat with, and with the water levels being less than 10in, there were not many people to ask for rides.
After about 15 minutes, two men pull up in beat up pickup trucks and start pulling out old school kayaks and getting ready to run their shuttle. I asked if I could bum a ride back at the end, and they graciously agreed to give me a ride.
Carl and Ladd came back from the long shuttle run, and the three of us put on the river. Carl was quiet and sweet, following behind me and chatting here and there. Smiling at me, and just watching me...
I have a lot of fond memories from that day, and don't know why it stood out more than the other hundreds of days I have spent on that river. I remember running new lines in RailRoad, the crisp air and bright colors, the new moves on some of the surfing waves, and how beautiful it was... I still laugh whenever I see a pair of creek mitts, knowing that Carl's story about "conditioning his hands" really meant that he just forgot his mitts, and that he was freezing cold! I remember how red his knuckles were and how funny he was trying to pretend his hands were fine...
After a day of boating, a quick dinner of some bacon cheese fries (minus the cheese thanks to Ladd) and beer, Carl and I agreed to meet the next day and boat again.
I don't know what it was, but that day was the start of something.
A few months later we were together almost all the time, and I was even driving from WV to OH on days I had college classes, and staying with him the rest of the time.
My life has changed in so many ways; four children later, I can still look at Carl and feel that confidence and comfort that he gave me the first day we met... I know when he stares at me, that he still sees the young 20 year old girl on the river that day, and it makes me feel special to know how much he loves me.
We have become very different people then we were that day on the water, but somehow, we have gotten to where we are together, and grow closer all the time.
I love you baby, and hope for many more years together and more growth and love to come. The changes we have made are amazing and I am thankful for them everyday.