Don’t let rocks ruin rush of going over falls

Relationships run into rough waters – risk is most exhilarating


Over spring break I went to Niagara Falls with my boyfriend, and while we stood, like all tourists, entranced by the power and fear of the natural wonder, I started thinking about relationships because, as a columnist, it’s what I do.

While I stared into the mist, I came to the conclusion that relationships are like rivers. Yeah, it sounds cliché or like a shallow person trying to be, but it’s true.

When we start off with our newest partners, it’s smooth sailing. You find a guy you can stand to be around for a couple of days, and before you know it, you’re driving 12 hours to another country.

The water begins to flow faster and faster until you reach that plunge where only 10 of the 15 daredevils have survived. That’s when fear comes in. Do you take the leap over the falls and hope the mythical Lelawala saves you, or do you cling to rocks as you pass with hope to do anything but go over?

Like rivers, relationships are never completely placid. Along the way you’re bound to hit the rough patches, the beds of rocks creating rapids — in Niagara’s case treacherous whirlpools. But if every explorer or daredevil gave up, the world would be a very different place.

You have the guys that spend too much time with their obsessions, like the video gamers, the guys who attach to you, or the all around jerks who were nicknamed heartbreaker for a reason. Even if you’ve found that perfect guy, the silly arguments are more than likely going to bite at your heels, and soon someone screams, “I just want to give you some Prozac and knock you out.”

But you can’t swim ashore just because the water gets a little rough. Part of committing to a goal is learning to stick through those difficult times.

You’ll never reach the big fall if you don’t keep swimming. And any girl that’s seen a Drew Barrymore movie knows that falling in love is the best part of relationships, even if they have other perks, too.

Who knows maybe you’ll get someone who will drive 30 minutes in the middle of the night to help you break into your apartment because you locked your keys inside.

If my relationship and my trip to Niagara taught me anything, it’s that sometimes you’re going to get frustrated, hurt and pretty angry at your co-pilot, but holding on and slipping over the side is much better than just going home.

No matter what our preconceptions are about something – I’ll fall and get hurt or he’ll break my heart like the last jerk – sometimes you just have to grab the barrel and go with the stream.

You can’t let the fear of possibilities hold you back. Maybe you’ll be crushed under the pressure of the falls, maybe you’ll make it downstream a few miles or maybe you’ll reach the horizon still intact. You could be that lucky little kid who rode the falls in a lifejacket and survived. Whatever the outcome is, don’t just stand on the riverside watching the water pass you by.

Leaping off those falls has to be extraordinary. After all, if it weren’t, people would stop trying. Anyone got a barrel?


(Originally written 3.15.2006)


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