After working late, I drove to downtown Portland to paddle a dragon boat with my team, the Mighty Women. I texted my coach that I was almost there. Then I ran all the way through downtown traffic, into Waterfront Park and down to the dock.
For the first time in the three years I've been dragon boating, the dock was empty. Not a dragon boat in sight.
It seemed appropriate. I'd been missing the boat all day.
I missed the newsroom boat--fellow reporters doing the weekly walk to Mighty Bowl to grab a healthy lunch. That boat left without me because I was on the phone trying to reach a government official for a story I'm writing. Of course, he wasn't in. I left a voice mail.
I'd been missing the boat connecting to sources for stories all week. July is a tough month for an education reporter. All K-12 schools are closed in July. District offices seem to be running on skeleton crews while most of the staff vacations. So when I am looking for a piece of information, quite often the person who might be able to provide that information is out of the office.
So Thursday night as I stood at the end of the empty dock, scanning the Willamette River for dragon boats, it seemed appropriate that I'd missed the dragon boat too. Some days are like that.
I pulled out my phone and called my dragon boat coach, Jeanie.
"Do you see us? We're right under the Marquam Bridge," Jeanie said. "We'll be right there to pick you up!"
Ten minutes later, I was paddling in rhythm with my team, matching the cadence of paddles digging deep into the water at the front of our stroke as we pulled the dragon boat through the river.
As we whooshed along the Willamette, a breeze blew through my hair. I sighed. What a glorious night to be paddling on the river, and a perfect ending to an imperfect day.