My First Dive

The ocean keeps changing for me.

It used to be our small space in Fort Morgan on the Gulf of Mexico. All “oceans” are green and have oil rigs like sparkling cities on the horizons. Then I saw the “oceans” in the Mediterranean, with smooth rocks instead of sand and water that is crystal cold and blue.

Then I saw the Pacific Ocean and fell in love. The powerful waves crashing against cliffs and swallowing rocks, foam swirling, and fog hanging. It became the idea of romance; everything became a beautiful movie.

Recently, I went to Thad’s Place, a scuba diving camp on the island of Dumaguete in the Philippines and my whole world flipped. I stayed at a camp where people would live and breathe water instead of air if they could. They would spend hours at the bottom of the sea and come up speaking about strange worlds. They taught me to scuba dive, how to take care of the ocean and what’s happening to it. I went underwater and entered the silence. The only sound present was of my artificial breathing from the oxygen tank , and I saw the worlds they were talking about.

Under the waves, I saw coral communities with purple spikes, swaying green grass, orange rocks that look like brains and veiny indigo shapes. All this life of turtles, snakes, eels, and fishes all completely unaware of the other world is above them. That this world above is killing them, Instagramming them, caring for them, defending them,  but then also turning them into sashimi.

As our boat mounted each wave, the salty sea was spraying our eyes, and I realized how separate we are…. land and sea. As if two different cultures are experiencing each other for the first time. The ocean felt so alien and superior. The ocean was not a romantic idea any more or a sweet childhood place. It is our other universe, just as beautiful, foreign, scary and infinite as space is to us.

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