Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Taking the Plunge into 2013

“Are you ready, Rob?” asked my good friend and co-worker, David Westbrook. “I have the strong feeling that ten minutes from now, we are either going to think this was our best idea or possibly the worst.”

            The growing crowd has become to cheer and chant as I look around the beachfront on Tybee. It is New Year’s Day which means it’s time for the annual Tybee Polar Plunge.  There are a few hundred of us who have decided to take the plunge. The pier is stemming with onlooker and news crews. I know I should be nervous about the 48 degree water awaiting me but my adrenalin has kicked in. To quote my favorite R.E.M. song, “I am feeling kinda psyched.” 
and the crowd looked on...

            Dave and I got the bright idea to do this bout 10 pm last night. I had always heard about the Tybee Polar Plunge but never really considered doing it. One wild hair later and the two of us were paying our registration fee at the Tybee Pier and receiving our complimentary t-shirt. I almost backed out this morning but now I’m really glad I didn’t.

            Standing in the staging area, Dave summed the whole morning up.

“This is why I love living here in Savannah so much.” He said. Dave had it right. As usual this type of event brought out all types of folks. Crazed partiers, People with a cause, families, and folks that just love to have a good time like us.  I saw everyone from a male Wonder Woman to a flock of “Ty-bees”. (Get it? They were adorable) It was my first time but fortunately I had the foresight to grab my Royal Order of the Pooh-Bah hat for my first plunge. Good thing I did because it’s made it much easier to find Dave and I in the all the pics and video. Large furry blue hats tend to stick out, I hear.

The crowd is what caught my attention. I am little ashamed of myself in being surprised. Coastal Empire People love to make the scene.  Local people are the best and so much fun to talk to. It constantly amazes me how Savannah/Tybee folks can act like there are big city yet be just as down home as the people I grew up with in the mountains. Fun crowd.


I also don’t know why I was so surprised when I discovered two of my students found me. It always amuses me to watch a student’s eyes when they find me in the civilian world especially with Pooh-bah hat in tow.  Come Thursday, I know I’ll be catching some shit in my 2nd period Brit Lit class but I am fine with that. It’s good for kids to see us teacher as human.

Dave’s plan was to run into the surf and dive. I must admit it was a good plan and one I’d choose but unfortunately I don’t run very well due to my ankles from the kidney disease. The smart choice was walking into the ocean for me. I am glad I choose this one because a) it was safer and b) it made me reflect a few moments as those last two minutes began to count down before the Plunge.

 On the Robby R timeline, 2012 will be a standout.  The big event was my outstanding nuptials to the lovely Kim Wade while Jude and Roni presided as Maid of Honor and Best Man. I met Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Stan Lee. I drank wine in Paris, Morocco, and a beer in Germany (OK, it was Epcot but it still counts for something). I honeymooned in the fanciest hotel I had ever visited.
"Ahhhh, Venice. I mean Epcot."

I became a parent. For real. And ever since then, I hear the ghosts of my Dad and Pop as I navigate these new uncharted waters.

Two decisions came to mind and became resolutions. The first is my health. I have been steadily improving over the past few years. It’s now time to get serious about a kidney transplant. Therefore, I have nicknamed 2013 as the Year of the Kidney. If I get serious about all the prep work and start laying it all out, I could probably have a new kidney in a couple of years. It scares me and thrills me all at the same time. I had been debating this for a while but as I looked out along the coast line. I knew it was time.

Second, I am going to keep writing this blog. There has been a bit of hiatus. My laptop was broken and it took a bit to get it fixed. During that time some stuff came up where my blog was used  a tool to drive a wedge between the kids and myself. It didn’t work but it made me leery to post anything of a personal nature here for fear of it being used against me. It also reminded me that so long as I am honest in what I say and write then slings and arrows just bounce right off.

I am going to keep writing but I may avoid some topics for a bit at least until Kim and I get this all sorted out legally. So if you keep reading my posts and see a lack family stuff, I am avoiding adding fuel to the fire for a bit but I assure you, we are doing great. Roni is glued to her new Nook and Jude is picking some chords I have taught him on the guitar.

I am also going to focus more on the getting the Tide off the ground. Seeing all the characters at the Polar Plunge had me realizing how much I honestly want to start writing about the goings on and uniqueness of living here in Savannah. C’mon, how many places would actually have a guy in an old timey bathing suit show up like this?

The crowd began chanting and roaring which snapped me out of my dazed moment of reflection. The PA system belted out a count down from ten. Dave and I looked at each other and began grinning. The moment of truth was here.

As the speakers belted out,”One! Go for it, swimmers!” About a few hundred crazed swimmers stormed out to the surf. I would later describe the scene like the massive battle scenes from Braveheart. The swimmers charged with full force and then came to a standstill about waist high as the surf would break on them.  This separated the men from the boys. Most people stopped and began splashing but some kept going until they were fully submerged. I watched Dave make it with the bravest crowd, go under, and come up laughing.

It was cold. No denying this. I am also proud to say I made it out to where all the hardcore swimmers and Dave were at. Of course during this process, the term shrinkage does not cover what happened to my body. I feel backwards and went under. I came up and realized I was ready for the New Year.

The Polar Plunge may not be for everyone but I do recommend going out just for the pageantry and the fun.  It was a great time and an even better way to get me ready for 2013. Dave and I kept laughing the whole way back and are already making plans for next year.