It’s been a long time since my last post, and honestly its been a long time since my last dive. The last time I donned a wetsuit and breathed underwater was on March 19th, the day before California closed all non essential businesses, and the Aquarium shut its doors in order to prevent the spread of COVID 19.
While scuba diving the activity itself does involve physical distancing- we are breathing our own air, we are sometimes completely encased in neoprene and silicon and plastic, we are underwater and in another world almost- Scuba Diving the culture is a close proximity activity. We stand closely crowded on dive boats, we check each other’s equipment for safety, we sometimes put our mouths on people’s regulators for quick repairs pre dive. We zip wetsuits, we unzip wetsuits, we crowd together over drinks hot and cold. We lend helping hands on boat ladders and through botched shore entrances. We warm frozen fingers in the close confines of boat galleys, and we surface from the ocean head first and excitedly try to put words to the experiences we’ve just had with our dive buddies.
As an instructor, I spend most of my time within arms reach of my students. Offering reassurance, confidence, security. Sometimes I whisper to students at the surface, clutching anchor lines anxiously and remind them of the adventure that is about to begin, how their lives will change with this first breath underwater. On choppy surfaces, I am their cheerleader, yelling “regs in!” and “let’s kick north!” I switch my trusty mask with people who are determined to believe their mask is leaking and mine must be the answer. I hug, handshake, high five every achievement.
In short, we are a close community of adventurers and ocean lovers. We stand closely by each other, and we stand closely to our love of the sea.
The beaches in California are closed to diving, surfing, sunbathing. Every day I see the sun set over the Pacific and another day that we are inside and uncertain of what the future will look like. But some things are certain-this world will go on. This is a short period where we are required to be unselfish for the greater good. The world has noticed, and is able to heal herself while we work on healing our sick and keeping others healthy. We can use this time to stand by each other-from a distance- until the time is right for us to stand together again in person.