I know it might be hard for you to believe, but I haven't always been as cool as I am now. That's right. In Junior high I wasn't on any sports teams or cheerleading squads, I was on the journalism staff (as a photographer, that's right, I taught Ralphie everything she knows), and on several of the "academic teams" (you know, Math & Science, English & Social Studies). Our uniforms were sweaters. Social suicide, I know, but dang it was fun! I was also on the environmental club (*ducking thrown tomatoes*), and even (brace yourself ) the space club.
That's right, space club. And would you like to know why I risked the very little dignity I had in Junior High and joined the space club? Why I went to weekly meetings and planned fake space missions with even bigger geeks than myself?
It's because Eric Fenstermaker informed me that at the end of the year the good people in space club got to go scuba diving, in a real live swimming pool.
The idea was exhilarating. I always loved the ocean, ever since I got that Lisa Frank pencil box in elementary school that had Orcas on the cover. Admittedly they were hot pink and purple sparkly orcas, but that is far beyond the point.
I wanted to see the ocean. Well, I didn't just want to see it, I wanted to be in it! Adding to my fascination was the release of the film "Free Willy". Good grief. I was obsessed with the ocean. I was going to be a marine biologist, I was going to live on a shack on the beach and spend my days on a research boat diving with whales and dolphins. I was going to have long curly sun bleached hair. It was quite the fantasy really, and space club was my only realistic "in" to that world.
It's a discouraging thing to be an aspiring marine biologist in a landlocked state where the most fascinating water species is the brine shrimp. But, I had a dream. And I would do anything I had to do, including spending many hours in a fake rocketship made out of two by fours.
I think the space club advisor knew that some people maybe only joined space club to go on the scuba diving trip. So in order to go it was required to attend something like 90% of the club activities. So I was there man, I was there for everything. I would never let a little social suicide ruin my chance to live my dream.
If memory serves me correctly, I think our scuba diving trip got cancelled at the end of the year. Not sure, but pretty positive. Wish I kept in touch with all of my space club buddies, but I am pretty sure they are all astronauts by now. Either that or institutionalized.
Anyway the dream was still vibrant in my heart but as I grew older and more realistic I began to realize that being a marine biologist, oceanographer, underwater photographer or even SeaWorld garbage taker-outer were not realistic career choices for me.
But when Blaine went on his mission, I was all the sudden left with vast quantities of free time and a decent amount of money, and, as luck would have it, no friends. So, the obvious thing to do was to get my scuba diving certification.
I talked my brother-in-law, Wayne, into taking the certification class with me. So every Wednesday night for several weeks we would drive to Murray High School and take a two hour long class to get our certification.
It was awesome. Except the time I forgot to turn on my air tank. That was not so awesome, but luckily my dive buddy, Wayne, caught me before I jumped into the water without air. That's what good dive buddies do.
The class culminated in a trip out to Blue Lake, Nevada. This was in January, mind you. Jumping into the middle of a lake in January is not an exciting thing to do, I'll tell you that.
I completed the certification and couldn't wait until I could go scuba diving in the ocean. You know, the warm ocean. That's not to say that diving in Utah or Nevada lakes isn't fun. It is, in as much as not being able to see a blasted thing in the murky freezing water goes.
The thing about having a scuba certification is that you need to go once every two years to keep it current. I got my certification in 2001, and I haven't been scuba diving since....2001.
I thought about trying to figure out what I needed to do to go diving on this trip, but Blaine wasn't all that excited about getting a certification, and it would be kind of spooky to go by myself. (Note: if you ever want to go scuba diving don't ever watch Open Water, not even the edited version *shudder*)
So I didn't worry about it. But then on the cruise Wayne went diving in the Caymans (one of the best places in the world to go), and I was stuck with the ten billion other snorkelers, up on top of the world. Looking down on the most fascinating things but not having the lung capacity to go down and take a good look at them.
But in Cozumel when I was renting my snorkeling gear I saw that they had an hour long shore dive for just $30 more than what my gear was going to cost me. I told them I didn't have my card, but that I was certified and they let me go! Wayne came too.
It's amazing how you can walk out to the water and waves are splashing in your face and you start to feel panicky but then you drop down beneath the surface and everything is calm and serene and...amazing!
We saw rays and eels and thousands of fish. We went in a cave (which is when I nearly died from an anxiety attack!), but it was SO awesome and I saw a fish that was the same size as me! We saw lobstery looking things and crabs, we saw lots of snorkelers, forty feet above us...the schmucks!
And so now I am bound and determined to become a marine biologist again. Or at the very least go diving more than once a decade. I want my kids to dive. I want Blaine to dive. I want to be the kind of family that dives. Alllllllll the time.
I want to own scuba gear.
and most importantly, I want to live in Cozumel, or Grand Cayman (not Jamaica so much).
So *fist up in the air* who's with me?
*wouldn't it be awesome if the picture on this post was actually a picture of me diving? Dang Target! Our underwater camera wouldn't work. And also...this diver is in the correct diving position, with arms placed calmly at your sides or clasped together in front of you....I looked more like a frightened flamingo or something with my arms flapping all over the place, but still...