Stefan is still sick. The water still calls. And it's still really cold by Northern California standards. No matter.
Jay came with me to the boathouse to help me carry my flat water single down the icy dock. I was layered to the max for warmth. And despite the arctic conditions, I had plenty of company on the water – eights, doubles, coaching launches, and enough open water with which to thread my way through them all.
And then, just as I'm hitting my stride, another single comes into my peripheral vision. He speeds up. I speed up. So it goes, until we're at the end of the channel.
I steal a glance – it's my old friend and rowing buddy Noah. "Oh, it's you," he says to me. "That explains it."
We laugh, turn our shells around, and row back together, catching up on life and kvetching about not getting out in our singles enough.
Rowing is a fluid world. I have rowing friends up and down the California coast, across the country, and in England. We may not see each other often but we're all intrinsically bound by a common love of the water and the desire to glide across it.
We're a mixed lot, often fiercely competitive, sometimes intensely introverted, and nearly always perfectionists. A little "Type A" maybe.
But here's the irony – we're also deeply loyal and in this world where so few of us have community – families are far flung, jobs come and go, churches aren't necessarily part of everyone's life – we rowers are a community.
Tomorrow a group of rowers will convene by the boathouse and we'll row out into the bay and form a circle in honor of a rower who left this world too soon. I knew her, but not well. Still, her absence leaves a hole in the community and all of us will come together to acknowledge the loss.
Life is fluid. But one thing is constant – the rowing community. I'm really grateful for that.