12.9.11

the best fruit is on the furthest limb

ok just out of the shower from my first two dives in Monterey Bay CA.

wow...

like wow, and not in the "I'm so F%$@% happy I did this" sort of way but more the "I can't believe I F$%!$#@ did this to myself" sort of way.

I'm not gonna lie, that was hard, and scary, and I'm just happy to be half way through the certification, and that I survived it.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I did it, I don't regret it, I enjoyed it in a fatalistic survivor way,  and I wouldn't trade this experience in for anything, but... it was hard.

In my defense at the end of the day our instructor told us it was really bad conditions, 3 foot visibility, lots of surging swells, and a strong current under the surface and if it was just him he would have turned around and gone home.

I always thought that learning to dive in the Monterey Bay is akin to learning to drive in San Francisco, a challenge but you would be better off for it sort of way. Well I know how to drive in SF  and now I feel like learning to dive in Monterey is a little bit more like learning how to drive in Cairo Egypt.
But I digress let me begin at the beginning.

The pool, I loved the pool, it was awesome.

Then yesterday finding the right wet suit combination...ah jeeze it was like playing vertical twister with my doppelgangers thick skin. Perhaps this is what a soul has to do before it is granted a body, tricky tiring business at best. At last a decent combination was found and the adventure begins.

So I would like to say I am not a panicker, not normally. In fact I can't recall any occasion in which I've panicked.
But here we are, geared up, thick wet suit (2 layers) a swim cap, a hood, thick gloves, thick boots then the heavy stuff weight belt, BCD, tank, everything. It's all piled on, I feel strapped down, trapped under the weight, I cannot walk properly with so much, all I can do is simply waddle to the shoreline.
I now have deep sympathy for the sea turtle, or any poor creature carrying it's home on it's back. I will never dream of riding a giant tortoise again, poor dear.
We waddle down to the water, flippers in hand so we can walk in past the break water, float on our backs and pop those flippers on! Simple right.
Yeah it sounds so simple so lovely until you are being beaten and battered by the under tow. People are knocked over like bowling pins tossed upon the sand banks to flounder in the shallows trapped below their scuba gear and it is every man for himself.
I take my fate clearly to the front of my brain and concentrate, it goes something like this "don't fall, don't fall, don't fall, float, float, fuck, fuck, float, float can't get my $%#^%&^$*#%$##%#@!^#$&%$*%^$*&(^$& flippers on".
This continues on for some time as I struggle but I persevere. Once said flippers were on and I was buoyant then things really started to fall apart.

I've never had a panic attack before, but I have been informed that this is what befell me.
I was buoyant, barely, my regulator in (it lets you breath under water) and the whole world started to shut down with its fingers locking around my throat.
It felt as if my wet suit shrank, I swear to God it did,  to about 10 sizes too small and no matter how much I tried to inhale there was no air. Oh air moved in and out of my lungs but it did no good, my brain was convinced that there was nothing. I tried to slow down my breathing, long deep inhales, long strong exhales, I tried to calm myself and it just wouldn't work.
I found myself hovering in water 40 feet from the shore unable to breath, unable to float very well and trying to convince myself that it was all ok.
Tom one of the dive masters there to help us asked if I was ok. Perhaps the look of terror was apparent on my face, I'm sure as a dive master and instructor you grow accustom to seeing this look.
I found myself treading water wanting to say "yes" while my mind was screaming "NO" and my body was getting all fuzzy like it wanted nothing to do with me. Instead the words out of my mouth were...honestly I don't remember what they were, something noncommittal as I tried to buy time and pull myself together refusing to have a melt down in the cold choppy water.
I was fooling no one.
The other students were making their way to the float, my scuba buddy and good friend Tasha hovered near by with Tom both of them looking at me with concern, and then I found myself saying it.
"I don't like this I want to go back"
As soon as the damn was broken the words wouldn't stop. A litany of "I don't like this I want to go back" erupted and repeated.
Tom checked in with Tasha if she could make it out to the others or not, there was consent and she headed out and I headed back to shore.

I am a believer in doing things that frighten me, that challenge me, but I am not used to things being stronger than me.
I don't remember the swim back to the shore.
I had Tom and he took good care of me.
I sat on a rock next to him, all my gear off watching the waves.

Tom asked why I want to dive, and I told him about all of you amazing dancers and that I was going on this amazing adventure to amazing lands to meet my extended family and that I wanted to be ready, just in case I wanted to go diving.
He asked me if I was afraid to travel, and I said no, there was no need to be afraid because I have a global family.
I became so calm on the shore, and so happy thinking of my life and the all the amazing people like you I will soon be spending time with.
It gave me strength and courage thinking about all of you, and then I was ready to swim out and try it again.

So Tom and I went back out. The Bay tried to intimidate me, it pushed me and pulled me and threatened me with its mighty strength, and I was afraid, I humbly bowed my head to its superior power but I didn't give up. I had help from Tom to get my flippers on, and he encouraged me like a good loving teacher, talking me through the torrent, reminding me that I could breath. Oh he also took 10lbs out of my weight belt so I could actually float and not sink like a rock like I was doing before.

As we neared the float marker out in the bay the other students were done with their first test and began to pop up at the surface, Tasha popped up to my right not 5 feet away from me. I turned nervously towards the familiar face and was surprised when a quick moving sleek sea dog dashed through the space between us. It was an otter!
It rolled over on its back and paused as it reached me, it was so close I could have touched it. It looked at me with its magical little face full of curiosity and a mischievous sort of glee, and it reminded me that the best fruits in life are sometimes out on the farthest limbs of a tree.

I made my descent to the bottom of the bay with Tom, feeling very serene under the surface of the water. I was rewarded with the beauty of fantastical creatures, very up close and personal, with 3 foot visibility how could it be otherwise.

After 2 days and 4 dives in the harsh and beautiful Monterey Bay I am a certified scuba diver. It sure as hell wasn't easy, and I almost quit, but I'm so glad I didn't. However it wouldn't have been possible without the love and support of my teachers and my friend Tasha Hudick, and the thought of all of you out there.
xoxox

~k






3 comments:

  1. congrats!! thats amazing, and most impressive with the conditions you did it in!

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG, it's unbelievable you had the courage to go back out after the panic attack. You are way brave...I wouldn't have done it in a million years. Congratulations on your certificate!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Whoa, wonderful! Always thought about getting scuba certification, I live near a beautiful protected sea area, but I always said to myself "I have no time for this, I'll do that later"... After reading this I feel like it's the time!
    Thank you for sharing your experience.
    And I must say that when I read about the reason why you were there challenging yourself and the sea, I felt moved. Thank you <3

    ReplyDelete

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