Its not long since I got back on land.
Had a rough time this last few days, and I wasnt sure why. Sure, there was stuff that I could be pissed off about. Plenty of little things, plenty of small things to blame. But it wasnt really accounting for the bad bad feeling I had.
Well today I went scuba diving.
Was my second lesson learning how to do this damn unnatural thing. And the first lesson I had swallowed an ocean of brine. So this morning my bad feeling had come to a head, and given the co-incidence of shaky hands and plans, I started to have the idea that it might be fear.
So this morning I ran some errands, picked up a LazyBoy couch from the other side of the island, came back to the house and looked at the clock. Now that really means something here: I never look at the clock anymore!
And it was counting down…
I got a bacon sandwich into me, and head down to the beach. I was fixing to test out some diving masks, and try to find one that didnt let in so much water as last time. But instead I saw friends at the beach and went and swam and layed next to them to hopefully cop some chill.
Worked to a degree. But 10 minutes till dive time, I was still shaky as hell. I cant remember when something has scared me as much as this. But I had determined to give it one more shot, and thats what I was going to do. You see, first lesson I had to take my mask off underwater, and breath through the tube for a bit, trying not to breath in pure water with my nose (my preferred breathing thing), then put the mask back on, tilt the mask up, and blow hard with my nose to clear all the water out. I had to do it four times, about 5 meters down, before I figured out how to clear it. My lungs and stomach were so full of sea water by that point I was really rattled.
I had written in my book this morning that I would give it one more chance, that it was worth that, and that if I couldnt get it then ‘it wasnt for me’. After lying on that beach for 20 sweet/sweat minutes it was time to give it another shot. So I stopped by my favourite Caribbean-sea-side-bar and had a straight Mount Gay rum, was chastised by my favourite head-shaking-black-hostess and warned of underwater cramps, then down to the Golden Rock dive shop!
After the interminable waiting, I got my kit on, looked at the horizon, and took that big step into the water. Not bad so far. At least there was another green diver with me this time.
Then we descended. As soon as my head got underwater, the force of my exhaling through the regulator rattled my mask. The water started to creep in.
I got the the bottom and caught my breath. I knew what I would have to do: one step further than last time. Take the mask off and swim underwater for an eternity, blind and with just the air tube, trying to resist the urge to breathe sea water through my nose.
Goddamn it it was now or never. I took a breath, if I was a liar I would say a deep breath. I tore the mask off, grabbed my nose with my free hand, and swam. My wild man instructor swam with me, until a sufficient length of unnatural-fish-time had passed, 30 seconds of my instincts fighting against the madness of trying to do what man wasnt meant to do. I took another shallow breath of air, jammed the mask back on, tilted my head up, blew with all my might through my recently denied nose, and cleared the mask of water!
My wild man instructor shook my hand underwater. And I was done.
We swam leisurely back towards the dive shop in the Caribbean Sea, I grinning like a man released from doubt, the others gliding like men fish, following the real fish, touching cannons dropped by old ships, tempting eels, seeing brainless organisms clutch for prey, seeing everything try to live, and just flowing.
And I was done. Next time I get a place in the boat, to dive on a wreck, or a coral reef, whatever happens to be on that day.
And Im damn ready to take it on.