I'm sitting in the Atlanta airport at the moment - halfway thru my return trip back to Omaha after my long Scuba-Diving weekend. I wanted to document some thoughts while they're still fresh in my mind.
When I was 12 or 13 years old I wanted to Scuba Dive. I started taking lessons to get my certification, but shortly before the certification dives I found that when I dove to the bottom of the deep end of the pool there was a very sharp pain in one of my teeth. It turns out that it's something called "tooth squeeze", caused by a bubble of air under a filling that reacts to the extra pressure that comes with deeper depths.
I put that dream on hold.
Fast forward to earlier this year. I decided that it was time to dust off that dream and try again. A certain someone and I took the course and traveled to Florida with the local Scuba shop and obtained our Open Water certification. It was a big deal.
Well - the way I look at it getting Open Water Certification is getting permission to get your feet wet, but for those wanting to do and learn more it requires additional learning and experience. The next level of certification, Advanced Open Water, allows a diver to descend to more than double the depth of Open Water and includes specialties such as wreck diving, underwater photography, underwater navigation, and other areas of interest to people looking to get more involved in the sport.
So - the opportunity to get to that point presented itself. Although there were a number of reasons - logistical, financial, and "other" - that it might not be a good idea the fact of the matter is that this dream had been on the shelf for too long to wait.
That's what this past weekend was all about. I had done all the class work. I had gotten as far in the process as you can get without going into the water. This weekend was about getting into the water and "doing". It was wonderful.
I learned as much of more about diving over these last three days than I have in the entire rest of my lifetime. Equipment, knowledge, experience, camaraderie....I could talk for an hour about it all. And the funny thing is that none of it happened as planned.
It was supposed to be pretty simple. The Charleston Scuba school had arranged for two days of a scuba charter out of Pompano Beach, FL so the two days were scheduled to be cull of 6 dives. There were 10 of us in the group - a small family whose son was being Open Water certified, a gentleman who flew in from New York just because he wanted to go scuba diving and this fit his schedule, a couple of guys who seemed to be pretty experienced divers, a couple of Dive Master candidates, the owner of the store, and me.
Since I was the only one pursuing Advanced Open Water I got lots of one on one time. It was great.
The two major elements for me included a night dive (including underwater navigation), and a deep dive (greater than the 60 feet max for Open Water).
Well - Saturday morning the weather in Pompano was dangerous for diving. 8-10 foot white cap waves, a Rip-Current alert, and there was no indication when things would get better. Within an hour we had re-planned the trip at spots that allowed each of us to do what we had come to do and, frankly, probably provided a better experience all around.
There are too many highlights to mention. One was diving in a current, watching the long see grasses slowly wave back and forth almost as though pushed by gentle winds. When you look up at the surface it's amazing to see that they're reflected downwards the same way that things above the watewr are reflected upwards. It was very peaceful...very calming and relaxing.
For yesterday's deep dive Sally and I were the only two divers. We went to the bottom of a deep spring - ~80 feet down. She put an empty plastic water bottle into one of the pockets of my BCD and we looked at it at the bottom....it had been absolutely crushed from the pressure. Going down, down, down was surreal.....thankfully I had no problem equalizing the pressure in my sinuses. This time there was no problem with the teeth. There was only calm.
At the bottom of the spring there was a deep fissure and water was rushing in causing quite the current. We went down to it and watched it for a while....it was fascinating. And when we finished - there were hugs and high fives all around....it was the last thing left to do for my Advanced Open Water cert.
I find diving to be everything I enjoy. It forces you to face fears to the point where there is relaxation and calm. It opens a whole new world that many never get to see in person. It is focused on having a "buddy" and is very much about community - everyone I've met doing this has been friggin' awesome. In short, I think the dream was waiting to be realized.
I've met many people who have been certified over the years but life eventually steered them away from diving. I won't be one of those people. I feel like a kid with a new toy and am actually disappointed that I won't be able to do this again for a few months. But make no mistake - the passion will not dim.
Back when I first met my electrologist, Maria, she told me about one of the trans-women she had been working on who had gone on a trip with her, her mother and family, and a group of others. She said that nobody on the trip had any clue that this woman was trans. The thought of fitting in and not setting off signals was absolutely incomprehensible to me.
As I headed to the airport today I found that it was the first time I actually "thought" about my unique background over the whole trip. I was busy being one of the gang, Sally's roommate, just another diver with a passion for the water. I couldn't help but think back to that story the Maria shared all these years ago. And in doing so - I was reminded of another dream that has come true....the ability to simply "be".
Anyway - I need to go catch my flight. Just wanted to capture some of this stuff while it's on my mind. The thing I'm looking forward to most right now is getting back and seeing the pups. I've missed them. :)