The lake was warm. I dropped into the water and pushed off from the dock. I swam into the sunshine, floated, and waited for Steve. He swam near and pointed down. He motioned to my mask and snorkel. He said, “Look.”
I hesitated. I slid my chin beneath the water. Then, my lower lip. Soon, my snorkeled mouth was submerged and my mask tickled the lake’s surface. I peered into the water. I saw fish and underwater flora and, for the first time in years, wasn’t worried about what lurked beneath the waves.
I’m not afraid of the water. Indeed, since childhood, I have known how to swim and swim well. During adolescence, however, my eyesight floundered, and soon I couldn’t read a book without my glasses. Contacts lent liberation on land but swimming?and leaky swimming goggles that threatened to flood and flush away my contacts?remained problematic. Normally, I swim blind. At my family cottage, while flapping away summer weekends in the lake, I’m often surprised by passing canoeists and trolling motorboats full of fishermen.
Snorkeling, therefore, seemed a dream. But my snorkeling husband wanted me to give it a try. I explained my myopia and its water-bound side effect: after so many years bobbing blind at the surface, I was scared to dive under. It was dark down there. What if I couldn’t find my way back up?
Steve’s solution was to convince me, over the course of two years, to leave my contacts in. He claimed that snorkeling goggles wouldn’t leak, and my contacts wouldn’t wash out. I nervously opted to trust but kept my goggled eyes firmly shut while I climbed down the ladder and fell backwards into the lake. Then, I opened my eyes and watched Steve swim over. He suggested I submerge my face and, with a deep breath and prayer, I did.
It was truly different underwater. Fish swam straight to my mask and stared at me as warily as I stared at them. Rocks that I had avoided because they were big, mossy, and gross to the touch suddenly seemed fascinating. Steve began to dive. I watched him descend into the silt and darkness and dove deep in pursuit. When I arrived at the bottom, Steve’s eyes lit up. He swam towards me. He leaned forward and offered me pursed lips leaking air bubbles?our first underwater kiss.
On the surface, between dives, he was full of questions. How did I like it? Did I see, now, why he wanted to me to dive with him? He suggested that I dive down, roll over, and look up. I puzzled, but dove, rolled, and looked. I floated and blinked, yards below the surface, and followed thick ribbons of sunlight stream up from my arms and feet towards a great overwhelming light in the sky. It was awesome?emotional?as though I were being cradled by God.
When I emerged, I was breathless. I was tired and sore but mostly thrilled. Enlightened. Steve waved and smiled. I smiled back, my eyes wide, finally.