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.