It’s official. I don’t belong in the “real world.” I should just ensconce myself in the world of academia for the rest of my life, make a fort of books and live there. That is my spot.
This was once again confirmed for me last weekend as I spent two full days in SCUBA class.
Saturday and Sunday mornings were spent in the classroom, watching videos, reviewing the books and taking the quizzes. This was my happy place. I will read and write and take tests all day long, happy with my indoor habitat.
Afternoons, that is where things got ugly. Each afternoon we had to kit up at the embassy pool for skills practice and assessment. Keep in mind, I am not a water person. I took years of swim lessons at the Caldwell City Pool (always the first session of the season/day, so it was freezing cold and miserable) and when that didn’t work, my parents enrolled me in private lessons with a teenager from church. Still, I can’t swim. I can float okay, but you’re not going to get anything more graceful than a dog-paddle out of me.
So of course, how does Saturday afternoon start? With a mandatory four lap (one lap being down and back!) swim. This was the first indication that I was going to be the weak link of the weekend. While everyone else did their quick four and rested, I slogged my way up and down the pool solo. The trials (I mean, skill tests) continued from there. After successfully getting on the kit, which I would estimate at about 683 pounds (remember, math, much like swimming was never a strong suit for me), we headed into the pool for all sorts of floating and bobbing and breathing exercises. While I was never the champion, I survived each one. Strangely, the worst part of that first day was not when we had our oxygen tanks shut off while sitting on the bottom of the pool, but rather when we had to de-mask and hang out, again on the bottom of the pool, for a full minute. Even with a respirator in, not being able to see clearly about did me in. (In other news, why was the embassy pool so murky?!)
SCUBA from 8AM-6PM made for a long, exhausting day, with the tiredness falling more on the side of being emotionally drained from spending the entire afternoon reminding myself not to panic than it did from the physical work of the lessons.
One day was not enough though.
Back to the embassy we went on Sunday for another day of keeping the terror at bay and trying to act like a normal SCUBA class member. The morning again was fine, with a few hours of videos and quizzes and then a sixty question final exam. Soon though, the clock struck 2PM and it was time to gather poolside once again.
On day two, my “big step” into the pool was much less spastic and I wasn’t always the last one to take that leap, so that was an improvement, but once again there was a series of skill that needed to be demonstrated before we could call it a day. Getting weight belts on and off under water was no problem and I was even able to drag a “non-responsive” swimmer (Thad!) to the other end of the pool, but swimming the length of the pool and back with no mask was less than pleasant. (I think this gets to the heart of my underwater issues. I don’t like not being able to see what is going to get me!)
Somehow, I passed each of my skills and ended the day with the thumbs-up to go on the sea dives in a few weeks. I’m not sure whether to be happy about that or not. It is one thing to be nine feet under the water in a pool and another to step off a boat into the great open sea. I’m hoping that the underwater world is as amazing as I’ve been promised, making these lessons worth all of the dread and anxiety. Right now, I’m leaning towards being a snorkeler for life, but maybe, if I spend some time where the “seaweed is always greener” and “all the fish is happy as off through the waves they roll,” where the clams all know how to jam and the slugs can each cut a rug, I’ll change my mind and dream of spending my days down under the sea.
(Sadly there are no photos of this crazy weekend adventure. I took my phone along, but my focus was on breathing regularly so that my lungs didn’t explode like crazy blown-up balloons and making sure my kit was fully assembled and attached at all the right points each time I had to take it off and on. So, no pictures, but believe me it happened. Hopefully there will be pictures from round two of SCUBA certification when we go to Tioman Island in a few weeks.)