Five of the Hardest Things I’ve Ever Done

A much younger R

Well, let’s see.

Literally one of the hardest things was the first time I dived off a diving board. This was in a swimming pool in Switzerland. I was twelve, and on vacation with my then best friend Dees. We went to that pool several times, and she dove in like a pro. Toward the end I finally took what was meant to be the plunge. But it was a belly flop instead. Although the term belly flop doesn’t really cover it. A flop sounds soft. This was not soft. In fact, I can still remember just how hard it was, slapping flat onto that water. Very hard indeed.

Reading an entire romance rag was hard. In my first year of library school I had to read one book in each popular fiction genre. The romance should have been easy, because it wasn’t even a book. It was a floppy magazine-type affair of no more than twenty pages. But it took me forever. A good thing too, that it was floppy and quite light, because that thing saw every corner of my room before I was done with it. That was the only time I ever threw a “book”. And I did it at least ten times, accompanied with loud, frustrated grunts.

Portaging two miles through a hot, windless, mosquito-infested pine forest in Algonquin Park in Canada, alternately with a 40-pound canoe on my shoulders and taking a break or with a 20-pound backpack on my back and then walking the same distance back to get the other backpack while T took a break from carrying the 40-pound canoe on his shoulders, not knowing how far we had gone and how far we still had left to go to the next lake, sweating like a pig in my jeans and thick button-down shirt that I had sewed shut, and wearing a hat with mosquito gauze which added to the heat and also made it harder to see where I was going while I had to half climb over fallen logs, and did I mention the 40-pound canoe on my shoulders? Best vacation of my life!

Emigrating from the Netherlands to the Rio Grande Valley.

Putting my thirteen-year-old daughter on a plane three days ago. I kept telling myself it was no big deal. A 45-minute flight and T was at the other end to pick her up. And it truly didn’t feel like a big deal. Until I stood at the airport window, watching the hallway thingy detach from the plane, which meant that all contact was lost until she would hopefully, please, please, please get off intact in McAllen. Which she did. Phew!

2 responses to “Five of the Hardest Things I’ve Ever Done

  1. The first time I rode a roller coaster when I was in high school. I did it to impress a girl, and it was just as terrifying as I imagined. Then I rode it 3 more times that day, because that lovely girl asked me to. Fun list. I love your stories. Glad your little one made the trip without incident.


    • Barbara Backer-Gray

      Thanks. I was on the other side of that roller coaster story. I always loved a good roller coaster, and in college a guy went in one with me, and he really didn’t enjoy it, but I did, and he came along again. I suppose that was meant to be a hint…


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