Breathe Underwater
June 1997

I was talking on the phone with Scott. He allowed as how he and his girlfriend Autumn were planning a trip to Honduras. She had been there once before and found a small island paradise. She resolved to return with someone special.

He said he was going to get certified for SCUBA. "Can I come with you?" I heard myself say. I had never thought of SCUBA as an adult. As a kid I was captivated by submarines and Jacques Couteau, but most especially, shipwrecks. This was the perfect opportunity to realize a childhood dream and it was complete serendipity.

Speaking of which, I had a meeting the next day in an unfamiliar part of the labyrinthine AT&T building I worked in. Walking back I spotted a flyer out of the corner of my eye. SCUBA lessons, 2 for $99. The bulletin board was just above a copy machine. Perfect. Take it down, copy it, and bingo.

The sessions at The Scuba Connection were Sunday afternoons. Classroom and pool work on the premises. The first time in the pool was tingly. We were minutes from the big moment. We learned about how to mount the regulator on the tank. The buoyancy compensator too. We got into the pool wearing the gear. Breathing from the reg at the surface makes a terrific racket.

Submerge in the shallow end. The water surrounds you. Pause.


My eyes got big, my heart raced. Very cool. Then you learn how to take the reg out of your mouth while underwater. And put it back in. Also cool.

Using a snorkel after this is a cruel joke. You've just become acclimated to breathing from a plastic mouthpiece and now you can't. People were choking, having to be rescued. Not cool. But the first breath on your reg as you sumerge is always an act of faith. I knew it would be easy the first time I did it. "I could get used to this," I thought.

I have, but there are still moments when I revel in what I can do underwater. Visit shipwrecks. See amazing constellations of life on coral reefs...

Simply breathe.