Sunday, October 22, 2017

Never let me go

"Looking up from underneath
Fractured moonlight on the sea
Reflections still look the same to me
As before I went under...
And it's breaking over me
A thousand miles down to the seabed
Found a place to rest my head
Never let me go"
- "Never let me go" by Florence and the Machine

Looking up from underneath
Right now, I am in the middle seat on a 737 on my way back to the United States. I am leaning on my boyfriend, watching the bright scarlet sunset through the oval window in the wall. I can’t focus on anything, and I can’t fall asleep. I just keep looking back through my pictures, reviewing species names, wishing I was underwater. 

It's been an incredible week. My dive skills improved by leaps and bounds - my air consumption, buoyancy control, and ability to hold position in the water all grew and stretched and improved. I learned how to carry extra tanks and switch gas sources mid-water to extend the lengths of my dives. I practiced the art of controlling buoyancy with my breath, exhaling to sink and inhaling to rise. Most importantly, I discovered that I had been wearing too much weight. Divers wear lead weights in their pockets or on a belt to make sure they are neutrally buoyant, and once I removed the 4 lb I had been carrying, everything became infinitely easier. These are the kinds of things you can only learn with practice. 

This mural appears on the side of the Trans World Radio
station in Kralendijk. My thoughts exactly.
I am so grateful that I got to experience tropical coral reefs and all their captivating biodiversity. I actually went back through my ID books and counted all the species I remember seeing. I made it to 50, but this is a gross underestimate for sure. I'm sure I swam past many more without noticing them, and I didn't even count fish. You know, diving for me this week was much like tidepooling when I lived in Oregon - a fun hobby, a way to get outside, away from datasets and laptops, a way to keep myself centered and in love with the world

I don't have any scientific projects on coral reefs right now, but it's not out of the question. After all, coral reefs are isolated, island-like, hard-bottom habitats - my specialty. We'll see what the future brings. 

In the meantime, the sun has disappeared below the horizon, and my plane is flying into the night. I feel the effects of this week in my sore ears, my tired leg muscles, and my clear, content spirit. I let out a deep breath and rest my head once more on my boyfriend's shoulder. I am full. 

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