Our scuba diving adventure began yesterday morning. Per my previous post, I really want to challenge myself and do things I normally wouldn’t do. I have never really wanted to scuba- sure it always sounds cool, but i know myself, my likes, my strengths, and my weaknesses, and it never came to mind as something I’d truly enjoy. But I always owe it to myself to try, right? And perhaps even more importantly to me, I owe to it Tyler. He would never demand it and certainly never pushes me to do anything I don’t want to, but sharing some activities is important to both of us. I wanted to try for him.

Thus, despite my intense fear and complete lack of real enthusiasm, I donned my wetsuit (what a pain to get on and off but not wholly uncomfortable once on) and learned everything I could from our awesome instrutor, Henry, at Frenchie’s. I can’t speak more highly of Henry- youngest looking 40 year old I’ve ever met and super knowledgeable and passionate about scuba- and most importantly for me, incredibly patient.

We boated out to our “confined pool” – a shallow-ish part of the ocean near the Belize Barrier Reef. Unfortunately the winds and currents were pretty intense, even enough today for the dives to be cancelled, but Henry swore we were safe and he’s a trustworthy guy. Above all, he wants his students to love diving as much as he does and would never do anything to jeopordize their experience.

So equipment explained and fitted and in hand, we were ready for water. A 3 person class consisting of T and myself and another active and awesome 40 year old from Portland named Michelle proved to be the perfect size. (If I learned nothing else from the experience, I too want to be in awesome shape at 40.) I got all my gear on and saw Tyler and Michelle back roll off the boat and land in the water like they belonged there- with grace, ease, and comfort. My turn- the lanky giant with little body control- entering the world of fragile fairies. I actually managed the back roll off the boat (twice) with ease and was surprised by my success. I pretty much expected (undeservedly and stupidly, i know) to drown at any given moment while in the water, so any succesful attempt felt incredible.

Breathing underwater is an absurd feeling- so unnatural and unbelievably amazing and altogether terrifying. I get no high from being scared, but I know a lot of you do, and if you haven’t tried scuba yet, you should. I kind of got the hang of it, but kept having anxiety/panic attacks and would either forget to breathe, attempt to breathe through my nose (huge fail when surrounded by water), or hyperventilate. I managed to stay underwater long enough (25-30 feet!) to see that the sites at the reef were quite beautiful and the fish and stingrays would let us get super close. I even managed to do 4 of the 6 tasks accomplished by Tyler, and Henry kept saying I was doing better than I thought I was and that I should try not to be such a perfectionist (wait, where have I heard that before?)

However awesome the experience of actually trying it, after some soul searching and realizing how tense and uncomfortable I was the entire time and even the anxiety I felt last night in anticipation of having to do it again today, I have decided to end my scuba experience. Cool as it is to say I have done it, I don’t really ever see myself saying “I want to go diving again.” If I hadn’t been so uncomfortable in the surrounding, I could summon the strength to continue, despite any real desire. But the challenge for me wasn’t in obtaining certification- it was just getting into the water. And I did. And I’m okay with tackling and conquering only that small challenge.

In the meantime, I will continue to encourage T (who is pretty much part fish) to dive on and will happily see him off with sunscreen, water, and snacks packed for his future dive adventures. I will also nurse my backache (tension and stress) and sore calves (over exertion and too much swimming at surface due to nerves) and swollen feet (ill-fitting flippers, I think). 🙂

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