Where does one look to find true love in their 30s? If anyone has tried the Russian roulette of the dating apps world – and trust me, I had tried them all – they don't exactly fill you with confidence that you'll meet a person you’d be proud to bring home to meet the folks.
And so, as I steered into my prime Bridget Jones years of spinsterhood – a single 30 something living alone in Sydney’s inner west – I did it all. I travelled, went out with friends (a lot!), adopted a cat to be my housemate, and decided to take up a niche sport… what about dragon boating?! I had always enjoyed the water and being in or on it. What could I possibly have to lose?
It soon became apparent that dragon boating was a very cult-like sport that can take up a lot of your social time. After my first couple of seasons in this new sport, I soon realised that my club was full of people with grey hair, people who were married with kids, and people who were already in a relationship. There was hardly a singleton to be found!
But I started to enjoy the quirks of the coach, and everyone was so friendly that I decided to stick it out with DSA. Eventually, I even became a bit competitive (Disclaimer: I have never been a sporty person) and wanted to be in the A team at Nationals and try out for the state team. Before I knew it, I was paddling 3-4 times a week without even realising it.
As they always say it’s when you stop looking for Mr or Miss “Right” that life can take a different turn. Of course, as fate would have it my long-time bestie since the 10th grade, OC6 regular Christine, had suffered a relationship break-up and was keen to join me at DSA after seeing how much I enjoyed paddling. She dragged along her old university mate, Shirleen, and the three of us soon became a close little clique.
Not immune to a broken heart, Shirleen eventually found herself in the singles club and while out on a bushwalk together, mentioned she was going to Sri Lanka for a wedding. She was meant to go with her boyfriend before they broke up and asked if I would want to join her for a trip instead. Being a ‘yes’ person… I was in! I wasn’t expecting to be invited to the wedding but they insisted I come.
I was vaguely aware that a nice boy named Simon – whom I had met briefly at Christine’s birthday the year before – would also be in the post wedding travel group. Coincidently, he was also the best man at the wedding! He looked so handsome in his suit and with his sparkling blue eyes. We hit it off straight away and our holiday romance blossomed. I was almost kind of sad when we went our separate ways at the airport, and despite having a few glorious days in the Maldives before heading home, I spent most of the time missing Simon and wasted much of my time checking my email and Facebook, waiting to hear from him!
Little did I know, he had already planned to pick me up from the airport with flowers in hand and Shirleen had already talked him into coming along to a DSA training session. And well… the rest is now history! Simon has been paddling with me ever since, albeit now with a 4-year-old and a baby in tow. We still try to keep the paddling dream alive, just not always at the same time! We had a few great years of racing and travel adventures together with the club in Hong Kong and with Down Under Dogs in Vancouver. I even conned him into doing the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker with me and another couple – now that is true love. Though as we crossed the line, he said to me, never again!
I have to say, I miss Simon these days when it’s time to get ready for training or on regatta days. I have to find my own shoes and there’s no one to put the paddles in the paddle bag or fill up my water bottle. I’m back to the quiet drive home by myself after training and the early morning OC sessions. It’s kind of nice in a way though. It’s like I’ve come full circle, but now I also have someone to share the paddle talk with and the usual, “you’ll never believe what happened in the boat tonight”!
*As for the rest of the girls, you’ll be happy to know that Christine has been happily married for around 10 years and has three beautiful daughters, and Shirlz recently married a French expat with whom she paddles with at the Melbourne Flames,