Monday, December 5, 2011

Care for a Swim?

Last February, Darren and I packed a bag full of bathing suits, towels, and bathrobes; bundled up; and drove off in the freezing rain to one of our favorite little towns on the Jersey shore. What were we doing there? Spa weekend? Couple’s massage? Hot tub and cocktails? Oh no. We were there for a swim.

In the ocean.

In February.

And we weren’t alone.

We parked in front of the little house we lived in before we were married, walked two bone-chilling blocks to the beach, and weaved our way through a crowd of people milling around the boardwalk. They carried their own bags of bathing suits, towels, and bathrobes, and their faces shared our expression of “Holy Christ… look at the snow on the dunes.”  

Everyone smiled and laughed nervously. Hugs and pats on the back were exchanged. Flasks were shared. It was freezing; but the camaraderie was awesome. We were there for the Valentine Plunge for ALS. In one way or another, every single person on that boardwalk had been affected by the beast, and we were there to prove to anyone who would listen that we’d do anything to raise funds and awareness, including a dash into the icy Atlantic in the middle of winter in little more than our dainties.

Three of our very good friends huddled nearby, waiting for us to arrive. Two volunteered to take the plunge with us, and the other submitted herself and her insane photography skills to the freezing sand. I could not believe that they (and my awesome cousins Kelly, Brittney, and Zack) climbed aboard this event without ever being asked. Anyone who offers to freeze his or her ass off in support of your cause really likes you and really liked your Dad. To say that I am humbled is an understatement. I know my Dad would say the same.
From left to right - yours truly, Darren, and good friends Dave and Greg. Pre-plunge, 2011.
After a few minutes of chit-chat, we made our way into gender-assigned tents to strip down to our bathing suits and then onto the sand to wait for the whistle to blow. Is the waiting truly the hardest part? Hell yeah, it is. The sand was unbelievably cold. A bolder woman might have focused her energy away from the fact that, toe by toe, sensation was seeping out of her feet; but not me. Instead, I hopped ridiculously from foot to foot until the whistle blew. When it did, adrenaline took over and slaughtered the cold, and we ran like maniacs toward the waves. I remember laughing hysterically at the chorus of screams as our feet hit the water, and I still laugh out loud every time I think of it. I made it into the ocean up to my shoulders and then bolted for the sand, back to my friend Catherine who was snapping pics and guarding my robe.

I was in and out of the water in much less than a minute; but it was one of the most amazing minutes of my life. Sounds dramatic; but it’s true. I liken it to how I felt after I had Madeline. I was so high on endorphins after I delivered her that I felt nothing – not fatigue, not needles, not stitches – but bliss. That’s exactly how I felt after the plunge. Cold, shmold… this was a blast, and I can’t wait to do it again in 2012.

The friends who joined us last year know exactly what they’re in for, and they’ve agreed to join us again anyway. (In Viking hats, no less.) Perhaps you would like to join us, too? It’s cold; but it’s incredible and I’ll buy you a beer afterward. If you can’t bear the thought of plunging, then cheer us on, donate, and/or think warm thoughts for us. We’d appreciate any of the above. Save the date (02/04/2012) and stay tuned for more details!