The dive shop was inside the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the “first undersea park” in the country. It was always a popular stop for tourists: Snorkeling, glass bottom boats, or, in our case, a couple of friends going scuba diving.
We put on our wetsuits, donned our gears and fell into deep blue. The equipments worked. I quickly forgot about the cold. The sensation was that of flying, floating fluidly above the reefs. Fish everywhere.
There was something about the sea that made a person wanting to sleep. Maybe it was the smell, the sweaty taste of salt. Or the weightlessness. I watched as my dive buddy Natalia swam into the void and tried to chase after her. Ever adventurous, so brave. She disappeared into the dark, her trail of bubbles fading away.
Ah shit. There was a large green moray eel guarding the Benwood wreck. It slithered slowly along the sea floor. There were other divers around. I saw their indistinct outlines, their white bubbles floated sunward.
I appreciated the silence. Nothing but the sound of breathing… bubbles bubbling away. What does one think about in this meditative state? I thought about my parents. How they were approaching seventy years but thousand miles away. If something should happened to them… Well, these were sad thoughts of home. The rolling hills, the Pacific Ocean, warm people, the idealized memories of a homesick heart.
When I was troubled I sought the sea. It was cold and warm, soothing and dangerous. Always full of life.