I quickly stepped into the boat house eager to get out of the misting rain. Then nervously scanned the room searching for a familiar face, though I hadn't really expected to find one. I started making introductions and finally came to Debbie. "I know she's one of us," she announced to the group grinning, "because she kept calling to ask what to wear. At the end of the day we all want to look good." I couldn't tell if this was a joke, or an admonishment. Though she was justified in ribbing me a bit. I had called several times. In fact, I had toiled over my outfit for the day. But less in an attempt to look good, more in an earnest effort to show up prepared and ready to perform. It was my first day of dragon boat practice with the Dallas United Crew Pink Team.
My preparation paid off. The Adirondack jacket and new Astral Loyak shoes I donned were perfect for the occasion. Except we weren't going out on the water. The lake was rough and the wind was swift, so the coach instructed us to grab an indoor rowing ergometer and begin a conditioning workout. It took a few minutes and a bit of coaching, but I loosened up and found my groove with the erg. The whoosh of the machine seemed to embolden me. I felt strong. I felt purposeful. I felt powerful. It was a mixed bag of ladies all brought together through a common denominator: breast cancer. And though I wish we'd met under different circumstances, I knew we wouldn't have. Our experience had given us the gall to be in that place at that very moment. Rowing in unison, nestled in closely amongst the piled-high, docked boats. Using our battered bodies to do something bigger, better, greater.