I know that doesn't seem like much to most people. But for me this has been a deep seated fear for as long as I can remember. I've mentioned it here before, but I have a pretty complex relationship with water. I don't particularly like it, I can be comfortable in a pool as long as I feel in complete control but the presence of a stranger, a strong wind... just about anything that I can't control puts me off that and I get nervous about being in the water.
This of course means that I can't swim, I'm not particularly comfortable on boats, and all of this has led me to hate the beach.
Well... flash forward to this month when some friends invited Kid Flash and I to join them on a trip to Culebra, Puerto Rico. A tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic, that you have to take a ferry to get to... as you can imagine there isn't much to do there except... well... the things I hate to do or am afraid of. After some lengthy discussion with Animal (the friend, who invited us, I didn't choose the knickname she did, it's her derby name) we came to the conclusion that maybe with some effort I could snorkle. She suggested getting a float to lay on, and simply putting a snorkel mask into the water, I wouldn't have to even actually be all the way IN the water to get some enjoyment out of it.
This weekend we coincidentally were planning to spend the night in a hotel suite as part of a birthday celebration, so we made sure to get a room where there was a pool (on the roof of a 45 story building with a fabulous view of Central Park even!!) so that we could test my ability to faux snorkel.
It turned out much better than that. Animal gave me some very kind and patient lessons, starting with simply blowing air across the water, then going in up to my mouth, then blowing air under water, etc. etc. step by step... until I was actually able to place my entire head under water, without even wearing the mask!! It was amazing! By the end of two hours I was floating face down, with my mask on and essentially snorkeling!
The biggest and best piece of advice from Animal? Humming. As simple as that. Animal pointed out to me that as long as I could hum, I would know that I was moving air. Plus the act of humming is naturally very comforting to us, the sounds, and the vibration in the chest. And that very small act really did calm me down and help me keep my head from freaking out.
I'll admit that I still had to pinch my nose, even through the mask (we didn't have a nose clip) in order to feel comfortable, and I still mentally freak out a little bit after going under in the mask and have to force the first breath... but with the right equipment I think I can actually do some snorkeling in Culebra! (maybe, being in the ocean may be a far different experience, but I'm looking forward to it.)
So after 20 years... maybe I'm NOT afraid of water? I dunno. Maybe I should try a banana tomorrow? Maybe I secretly like those too after all the years...