Today, April 22, 2016, at approximately 0730ECT (Eastern Caribbean Time), I had my first official “I’m swimming in an ocean!” moment.
See, my virtual identity – The clumsypixie – isn’t just a cute, whimsically chosen name for Minecraft. It literally describes me in more than just two words smushed together. It is who I am. Well, I should correct that; It is who I am, on land. I tend to be hyper-conscious of footing and things when I’m walking, because ass-over-tea-kettle, I have fallen more times than that Life Alert lady.
But as I stepped onto the beach, removed my flip-flops, and dug my toes into the sand, I began to really get wafts of the ocean as each little wave crested the beach. I could smell it pretty much all the way here, I mean, we’re surrounded by North Atlantic on the east side and Caribbean on west side of Nevis, but I mean ‘really’ smell it. The seaweed. The saltiness that touches the air in a fine mist that you’d miss if you weren’t at the shore for such small waves. And the sand; it’s not sand really. I call it that, for it’s an easy descriptor for your brain to glom onto, but really it’s a mixture of what I can see at a glance it is probably a dozen different things. Volcanic rock, crushed coral of various species, bones, shells, and some other types of actual crushed rocks and silica. More on all of this in future articles, but for now, let’s hop in the water already!!
I’ve snorkeled a bit – in a fresh lake (various ones in mostly Ontario, but a few in Quebec and Alberta and BC and even Manitoba, Minnesota, New York (upstate), and… yeah, you get the idea. I love to swim. I just usually have to do it in a pool or local watering hole. Snorkeling in fresh water is much different than saltwater. First off, oh my buoyancy! I am my own flotation device! The girls clearly aren’t just for fun and show! They… sorry, I got carried away there. I’m trying to paint a picture of my snorkeling, not what I looked like whilst snorkeling…
The boy walked me through the differences in the buoyancy and how to compensate for it until we have fins and dive-weights. I was so panicked I wasn’t going to “get it” – how was I not understanding this simple process? What was making me worry I was going to fail and be chucked out of the ocean? Is there even a fish police squad who would do that? Ahhhh nertz! Is Aquaman going to appear? *Please be Jason Momoa, Please please please…*
If I didn’t learn fast enough, I wouldn’t be able to pass my scuba certification and if that happened, the boy would divorce me for sure because I wasn’t cool enough to scuba and oh my stars why can’t I just stop worrying and just swim like I always do? Where is this crazy panic coming from? Just put your head down, Pixie and SWIM dammit.
All of that panic and silly mind drama raced through my head. ‘You can’t do this under the water, you will not be allowed to scuba,’ I told myself. The weirdest part was, I could swim with my head under the water without the mask on, and without the snorkel in my mouth. When I put them both on though, it was suddenly too alien and I wanted to rip them off and just swim normally. And can someone please deflate these girls so I can actually go down a foot in the water for crying out loud? Why can’t I be an ‘A’ cup just for this moment!?
Thankfully, the boy was very patient and yet slightly concerned. “Are you scared?”
I actually laughed at that, and it relieved some tension. “No, I just keep trying to breathe through my nose.” And there it was. The words were out, and I realised their truth. *DING!* Lightbulb goes on, and the panic starts to abate some.
“What’s the worst thing that could happen when you’re down there?” He asks calmly.
“That I hold my breath and I die.”
“Okay, well, don’t do that then. What else?”
“I can fill up with water and choke.”
“Fill the snorkel tube with water and force it out.” He showed me and made me practice topside. Another “gotcha” moment. I tried again. Stuck my head down, and instantly sucked all the water I could… through my nose.
I can’t very well be a fish if I am unable to be a fish! Why am I not getting this?
“Let’s try again, but this time, let’s head over there,” he says, pointing toward the rocks with the huge wooden mast like pole where the what I’m gonna call Caribbean sea gulls sit and scream things that make me think they are Finding Nemo characters with their “mine! mine! mine!” squawks. ((They are officially called “terns” – but they are the Caribbean sea gulls, so I was right.))
I tentatively put my head back down, and my nose and eyes fill with sea water. I’m now rubbing them furiously, and I know this isn’t helping matters. We adjust my mask, and I put it back on, suck in, and it stays better than before. Now I’m super weary of getting a sinus cavity full of salt water, but down I go again, and this time, I … I… ooooh, fish.
Even the boy notices, and there’s an incredible sense of calm that fills me, so much so, I’m exuding it, I’m sure. I’m no longer trying to figure out how to breathe under the water, I just am. I’m not disturbing the baby angel fish, or the surgeon fish, or the trumpet fish, or blue tangs which are bright yellow when young, and even a rock fish – which makes me think of Blue Lagoon – the cheesy 80’s movie, not an actual good decent fun beautiful lagoon full of bright blue water – I have yet to visit one of those other than on a book’s page or a monitor’s screen – and I’m just swimming around breathe in, breathe out.
I’m legit watching these gorgeous swimmers in their natural habitat.
I wanted to stay all day and play with them. My new friends. My swim pals. My fish buddies. Sadly, the day was demanding we stop being fish and return to being human again.
I know I will never enjoy the feeling I had like I was gaining a thousand pounds per step as we came up out of the water and stood, as mere mortals again, with just a bit of the ocean licking our ankles. Oh, this is what sadness is. I forgot. Can we please go back in the water already? It’s been 0.00001 seconds and I miss it so desperately! I don’t know how to breathe above the water line anymore! HELP!!!!!!
I slept for three hours after we got back to the apartment. I’m leaving out a bunch of the deeper emotional stuff, but sometimes it’s that which is too deep to want to explain that propels us to want to do the thing again and again.
I like being a fish.