Book Excerpt: Welcome to Fall Camp

I crept to the edge of the rock as a nineteen year-old flung herself off of it into the swift current twenty feet below. All of my leg muscles and bones melted away as I stood contemplating my leap.

I couldn’t hear the person behind me over the roar of the river or the rush of blood in my ears. I was aware of them inching closer to me as if to hurry my decision. I took a deep breath, pinched my nose, and launched myself off the cliff and into the mighty Ottawa River. I may as well have taken a big drop on a roller coaster. My stomach dropped well-before I hit the water with a loud thud. The skin around my thighs burned with the force of the impact. The river pushed me downstream. As I swam to the surface my contacts felt like two pieces of cellophane wrapped around my eyeballs. The water drained from my ears and I heard shouting.


“Swim hard left, Kate!” Our program coordinator had stationed himself downstream in a short whitewater kayak to catch those of us weaker swimmers before the river swept us a kilometer downstream. I did as I was told, landing on the pebbly beach past the last blue and yellow rubber raft that had put me here.


I looked down, relieved to see that my shorts were still in place. The river hadn’t ripped them or my sandals off of my body. I shivered on shore wondering why I had refused a wetsuit and staring in disbelief as my classmates lined up to jump off the rock for a second or third time. I stretched my legs out in front of me and examined them. They were covered in goose bumps. Their muscles – which had magically reappeared – felt crinkly and crunchy. They had expended all of their nervous energy and needed replenishing. I needed a nap. One morning into my career change and the unsubtle metaphor of my leap was not lost on me.


Welcome to the first day of Fall Camp.


I’m writing a career change memoir and I’d love your feedback as I post small ~300 word blurbs. What do you want to know more about? What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? Comment below or e-mail me.

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