A Divemaster in training.
The one time I was actually terrified.

A starving dog followed us on our way to work.
He was yellow, and almost bald. Red eyes slit between thin hairs, and ran red, runny.
He seemed sad.. meek. But happy to see us.
I had some leftover spaghetti in my lunchbox—more excited to get it out, into the garbage, than my stomach. I thought I’d give it to him. I thought I’d maybe fill that aching hole in his stomach, for at least a couple hours.

Help the dog

So I helped Instructor Tasha with Discover Scuba Divers—divers who were not certified, but have dove before. Supposedly.

We started in the pool, and I had no idea what to do. I hovered around the three, large tourists, and tried to be an aid. To help strap this buckle, and attach this regulator, and untwist that band. Random things. Helpless things.
Then we went underwater, and I hovered again.
Watching, waiting.
Tasha demonstrated the skills.
She watched them, and they watched her.
I just scanned. For uncertainty, anxiety.. and I saw a lot of it. It tightened their expressions, and fueled their flailing arms beneath the water. I tried to help—look deep, steadily in their eyes, as if to say I’m here. I know what to do. Don’t be nervous.

Not sure if I would actually know what to do in a situation.
But I’ll take that as it comes—right now, it’s about preventing a situation. And to prevent this situation, these people need to know that they are okay, and will be okay.

Or will they………..

Tasha tells me to hover above, and behind, the group.
She’ll take the most nervous diver—the one that bolted to the surface three times, in the pool.
In the pool.
How ya gonna take the ocean.

But I’ll take the other two nervous divers. I’ll stay above, and behind, in order to block a sudden bolt to the surface. With my body—a solid 115lbs, versus an average 200 lbs. Realistically, my body’s going where their bodies’ are going. I’m not likely blocking anything.

In the ocean, you can’t just surface as fast and as fierce as you’d like.
You can’t just get nervous, and want to get out, so get out.
You can’t just swim for your life.
That’s worse than whatever you’re swimming from. Your tissues and sinuses could bubble in excruciating pain for an underestimated amount of time. So I don’t blame you if you’re nervous, or don’t want to dive—but if that’s the case, then don’t go.

Please, don’t go.

Anyways, at the bottom, all was edgy but okay.
They shimmied through the water at a 45 degree angle—half swimming, half standing. Arms fluttering, flailing. Over time, they began to even out, even lay out, and really swim. But Tasha lead us upward, to the surface, and the current became stronger. Their bodies became more buoyant. And one began to take off..

I throw my signal in the air—demonstrate deflation.
Arm extended upwards, reaching out of its socket, releasing bubbles and air from the deflation hose.

My cupped hand waves her close.

She flails her arms harder, an attempt to point her body downwards, but can’t do it.

I swim just a little higher—I reach for her lower BCD strap and try to pull her downwards, out of the stronger current. But before I know it, I’m taken.

And she’s taken.
And we’re taken.

I feel the force of the swells, bending and pulling and twisting my body. White washes overwhelm us, in rolling, tumbling clouds. I catch glimpses of crumbly rock. Black, and brown, and sharp. And I let my arms cross over, my knees twist until in whichever way the current demands.

And I had this thought—
Don’t panic.


And finally.. finally…
My head bounces lightly, above the surface.

And there’s my diver.. a stroke away.
Fear not.

All good and happy!