The sea and the sky. Where does one end and the other begin? When I was scuba diving in my twenties, they were the same thing. Twenty, thirty metres down in the water this inverted surface was accepted magic. We were flying through it with no gravity, living in three, full dimensions.
From diving in different locations, both tropical and temperate, we moved to London. There was no more time to dive. We had to work. We bought a house, birthed children and had all these new, important responsibilities. Commitments. Until things fell apart.
Seeing pieces of your life on the floor was well, interesting. For Jack and my relationship, we suddenly wanted our freedom back. I imagine this is a common reaction. Happiness without bonds. But how, how could we do it without splitting up? We both considered splitting but in the end it wasn’t an option. Having a disabled child both broke us and saved us as a family. So, we went back to the beginning, to what made us happy together in the first place. For us it was adventure. Of course we didn’t piece it together as systematically as this… we managed to make these decisions without any of the organised thought stream that I’m using now.
We just sold the house. Bought Quest. Left on Quest and headed south. Finally, before we departed the Canary Islands to cross the Atlantic, the last piece came together. We saw a dive compressor in the dive store in Las Palmas. It was so pretty standing there; a bright, canary yellow, little-engine-that-could.
We stared at it. Could we buy it? It certainly wasn’t in our budget. Would we be diving a lot in the Caribbean though? That was the plan. Would it make our plan easier? Yes, it would. The next day it was being lowered onto Quest.
The first few dives were good in the Caribbean. We were doing it! Back to freedom – for the first few dives. Then something unexpected happened to me.
The past knocked on my door. It was claustrophobia. It came too when I was a kid – had given me a few traumatic experiences. I’d once locked myself in a tiny toilet on a ferry in Scotland. After a few seconds, I felt myself become uncontrollably hysterical. I see now it was a panic attack. In the end, my mum coaxed me out and I had to do the walk of shame past a bunch of laughing, elderly-looking people. Good times.
Afterwards, small spaces equaled panic for me. I quaked of the idea of being buried alive. Lifts, toilet cubicles (again) – I wouldn’t commit unless I’d checked I could definitely escape. Hold my breath the whole way. Somehow, almost imperceptibly, I lost this fear. Until this second life-leg of scuba diving brought it back again. Oh hey claustrophobia. You’re back.
With my old visitor, I got progressively more antsy scuba diving on Quest. It was worse if the kids were on the boat, waiting for us to come back up. No prizes for surprises. No more freedom through diving. When I looked up at the surface this time, it seemed so far away. Too far.
I want to go back though. To where the sea meets the sky. To where I can fly through the water.
Thank you dear reader. This is the beginning.