My Complicated Relationship with the Sea

I’m getting ready for a vacation to Belize where my husband and I will be on a small island resort where we can snorkel each day.  The upcoming trip has me thinking about my complicated relationship with the sea.

When I go swimming in the ocean I always feel like there are a couple of sharks snuffling around my feet, following me. I can feel them behind me in the water swirling around, ready to bite. I read somewhere that sharks have a thing about feet so you could see why I’d be nervous about losing a toe or two—or worse. But here’s the thing—those sharks are incredibly tricky. Every time I stop swimming and turn around to look for them, they’re gone! It’s like they can read my mind and they disappear before I can catch them sniffing at my heels. So maybe they’re psychic sharks that know how to make themselves invisible or are just really good at hiding. Someday I hope I’ll see this on TV: Invisible psychic foot-fetish sharks– Tomorrow on Shark Week! But, I’m not going to hold my breath.

Aside from the sharks, I really do love the ocean. I grew up in Southern California and most the girls that I went to school with were petite, tan, and blonde—pretty much all the things I am not. At all. Ever. The only time I was petite was when I was in utero. My part of the gene pool, we just burn and peel, it is not a good beach look.

But, the ocean, I love being in the ocean, away from all those cute people with their tans and good bodies. (Damn them.) I’m not really a sporty person, but I did get certified for scuba diving, which is probably the sportiest thing I’ve ever done. I found out that I have a problem that doesn’t help me when I dive.

I am buoyant. Soooo damn buoyant.

And that’s the thing about diving is that you have to be able to leave the surface of the water, to go underwater, that is the point of diving. Turns out, my whole body must be made of water wings, because I will not sink unless you load me down with dozens of weights. The last time I went diving, and I mean, it will be the last time ever…we had a boatload of people, and everyone dived—is that dove?—into the water when we got to our dive spot and started descending into the deep water. Me? I just bobbed like a cork on the surface while the leaders of the trip started shoving weights into pouches on my belt. I continued bobbing and peered into the water to see ten other normal people, all down in the water 50 feet, staring up at me.

Finally, the last weight the leader shoved into my belt was the tipping point. I started to drop—like a rock. Having suddenly lost my natural buoyancy, I just kept dropping, and I said to myself, “Self, you could drop all the way to the bottom of the ocean—and that would be a bad thing.” Panicking, I pressed the inflator on my vest which filled up with air—my man-made water wings—and BOOM. I popped up to the surface again. I peered down into the water at the ten people still looking up at me—bubbles rising from each of them. If they had been thought bubbles, they would be filled with words like “why can’t that middle-aged woman get her butt down here?” And so it was, on that day, I decided that what I really wanted was a nice boat ride. I waved to my companions through the water and climbed back on the boat. Ahhh…what a nice day for a cruise, now all I needed was to take off all this scuba gear and find myself a piña colada.

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