As I went through my photo library to find a picture that perfectly describes the word “entrance”, I realized something. Every photo that spoke the word “entrance” to me was significant, and sentimental. Each “entrance picture” marked the start of a new adventure, hobby, or chapter of my life. I felt blessed browsing through photos of my nephews entering this world, Bottlenose Dolphins I worked with entering the Gulf of Mexico, my best friend entering the aisle on her wedding day, and a quick snapshot taken before my first SCUBA diving entrance into the water.
I had a hard time choosing which entrance I wanted to pick, but decided on one taken in Florida, in a cave, underwater. For my SCUBA certification in 2007, I went to Florida with a dive team based out of Charlotte, NC. We made multiple dives in rivers, quarries, and caves. I now view my life in two parts: Before SCUBA and after SCUBA. Even though I don’t dive anymore (time, money, landlocked, work), making the decision to dive and the adventures that followed changed my life. I was in a rut, and the oxygen I slowly inhaled (don’t want the lungs to burst!) through my Aqualung regulator brought me back to life. With each dive, I felt more independent and sure of myself. I felt like I finally had a place in this world, so what if it happened to be underwater?
Learning to SCUBA dive allowed me to experience Mexico, Aruba, sunken airplanes, shipwrecks, unseen wildlife, underwater conservation, and freedom. Underwater was where Isaac and I had one of our first dates, and where I nearly got him killed. I assured him I knew how to navigate underwater (lie) and got us extremely lost. He ran out of air, we lost the boat, just a typical date, really.
Freedom from the earth’s surface is indescribable. It’s a different type of freedom than flying; sitting in a tube of metal in the sky with a screaming infant kicking the back of your seat is not freedom, it is hell. Underwater, you are suspended in time. All you can feel is the encompassing pressure of the salt water, the current pulling you gently back and forth, and the warm stream of pee flowing down your wetsuit leg (there are two types of divers: those who pee in their wetsuits and those who lie). The only sounds heard are bubbles leaving your regulator and curious fish speeding past you.
SCUBA diving, in my eyes, set my life in motion. It took an anxious and unsure 20 year old and turned her into a fearless woman who didn’t think twice about strapping a tank to her back and diving 120 feet underwater. It turned a girl who was almost afraid of her own shadow into the diver on the boat that yelled “take us to a dive spot where the sharks hang out! I want to get in with them!” It forced a girl who sleeps with a night light on (oops, still do) into a woman who jumped into the Atlantic Ocean at 10:00 pm to dive in the pitch black water. SCUBA made me who I am today.