For years we’ve heard my dad tell the story of when the cops found him and his friend riding their motorcycles in the woods of a state park, which was not allowed. The tale is that the policeman who were on foot, finally caught up with them to make them stop. Because they were in the woods, they had to walk back up the hill to get to the police cars. The bikes are heavy, and heavier pushing them up a hill, so they asked if they could turn them on to have a little help from the engine. The cops finally relented, and let them. The boys jumped on the bikes and took off.
Last summer in Goteborg, Sweden, we finally got to meet the other culprit in the story, who could vouch for this tall tale. My dad tells the story well, but we learned so much more about it from Billie. He remembered so many more details, how heavy the bikes were to push, what the policeman looked like, the terror of facing their parents, the roar of the throttle, even down to two best friends looking into each other eyes, speaking without words, knowing that they had to jump on at the same time for this to work.
It got me thinking. I want to remember certain stories, or days, that clearly. So here it is, the story of Hilarie and I jumping off a rock in Sweden.
The day started with a ferry ride to the small island where family friends have an island. We sat in the sun eating cheeses, sandwiches, homemade bread, delicious chocolate cake, yogurt, tomatoes and an endless supply of coffee and tea.
When we couldn’t eat another bite, we headed back to the water to get on a boat from 1965 that barely fit all 7 of us.
After slowly chugging along the archipelago, we docked on a tiny rock island. We wandered around for a while on the rocks, then watched two true Swedes jump into the freezing cold water, and acting like it was fun.
The Swedes politely left us to do some thinking about whether we had the nerve to jump. In to freezing cold water. Naked. While our friends and my brother could come back at any moment since they were unaware of our plan.
We got undressed and stood on the rock edge, trying to soak in any last bit of sunshine we could. Just two best friends looking into each other eyes, trying to summon the courage, but mostly because of the nakedness.
There was lots more convincing each other, laughter and many looks over our shoulders to see if anyone was near.
Then we lept. The 10 foot jump felt like it lasted milliseconds and I was instantly overcome by the shockingly cold water. The water felt thinner than other waters, but probably because it seemed like I had forgotten how to swim. We managed to climb back to the rocks, and are hysterically laughing at this point. It takes several minutes for Hilarie to finally be able to tell me that my nose was bleeding and was gushing blood down me. I had also managed to cut myself on the barnacles so the scratches on my legs are feet were bleeding. We’re beyond laughing, and have moved on to hyperventilating from the ridiculousness of it all. It made it that much harder to climb back up the cliff edge.
I have never been so happy to lay in the sun in 50 degree weather. Compared to the water, it felt so much hotter, and the rocks were like a toasty oven.
The Swedes had gone to find the other boys and upon telling Derek that we were jumping in, he quietly headed back our way. Nick and Peter arrived to discover us in towels, not happy that since we had jumped, they knew they had to as well. They used the spare bathing suits, jumped into together, and came out cursing together.
Derek was not as eager to jump into the cold water, but since he was the only one left who hadn’t, he quickly stripped down and ran towards the water, naked, while I had my video camera at the ready.
Then another gorgeous boat ride back to the island, where we had another amazing home cooked meal, played Swedish games, and had great conversations all night.