On Saturday afternoon at the South Cove in Battery Park City, each racer had a boat with a team and at least one kayaker. The racers stopped every fifteen minutes or so for water and a nibble. My cousin Sela was on the boat, with Regina in the water. Sela had told me Regina’s girlfriends traveled to New York and would be waiting in the park; I should look for “a bunch of crazy Guatemalan women with Guatemalan flags.” For an hour, I eavesdropped on every Spanish conversation and watched for flags. Pete was talking about something I instantly forgot when behind him I saw the blue and white Guatemalan flag unfurl and I ran around him to find four women in matching shirts with Regina’s face on them. There followed a lot of squealing and jumping up and down. Thank Kali I’d just spent months in physical therapy, specifically forbidden to jump up and down.
These women told me they’d been friends with Regina since pre-school and they’d all come to New York to celebrate their 45th birthdays. They were vivacious, loud and happy. Two Spanish-speaking EMTs joined the conversation and everyone talked at once. I was breathless with joy. We’d gotten used to the pattern by this time: in the distance, we’d see one of the big boats, then a kayaker, then flashes across the water’s surface that became a swimmer that swam right past us and finished the race. Then we saw this.
Tata: Those kayakers do not appear to have swimmers.
EMT: They’re all supposed to have swimmers. These guys may be something else.
I turned toward him slowly and with purpose.
Tata: Are you saying those are MARAUDING KAYAKERS?
He nodded slowly.
EMT: I suppose I am.
This might be a good time to mention the Guatemalan women had difficulty believing I was born in New Jersey, lived all this time in New Jersey and continued to live in New Jersey. In the distance, there, it doesn’t look like that much of an improbable suckfest.