This post originally appeared on Mae Mucho: The Diary of a Myers Park Mom on January 4, 2010
In With The You
Well, it’s a new year — hard to believe. I am mostly distressed to note that if it is now January, then the entire month of December passed and I posted not ONE WORD on the blog. How sad. But perhaps that glaring omission is a fairly appropriate part of the “diary of a Myers Park mom.” Most of the moms I know in Myers Park and everywhere else were completely crazed during the month of December. All of the holiday preparations, the parties, the family, the H1N1, and the stomach bugs . . . indeed, a busy time of year.
It seems every year I am so excited for the holidays to come . . . and so excited to see them go. This year we had a lot of family over for a massive Christmas Eve dinner and slumber party, huge Christmas morning brunch and Santapalooza. Then out to my Dad and stepmother’s home for Christmas lunch. A bit of a marathon, but really, how lucky am I to have so many important people in my life? And close enough — literally and figuratively — to celebrate these special times together. . .
So now its finally January. I am slowly packing all of the Christmas away, back up into the attic. Cleaning the house to be fresh for the new year. Thinking about what is in store for 2010. This year I turn forty, which seems really cool most days and a little unbelievable on others. I mean, forty is clearly grown. This is like, it — my life. It makes sense that typically there is some major celebrating around the milestone. And major goal-setting and life evaluation.
When my husband turned forty, we went to Belize to celebrate. Instead of a huge party, he wanted to SCUBA dive and hike and cave spalunk and have a BIG TRIP like we used to do pre-kids. He planned it all and it was something — really crazy cool stuff that I originally dubbed “geriatric outward bound” (ha ha SO funny since I was 2 years younger). But don’t be fooled by the jab. It was a strenuous trip that required travel to obscure and exotic locales, and quite a bit of pushing through physical and mental obstacles to thrive . . . and even survive!
Like when we showed up the first day to our dive spot– after our flight into Belize City, van ride to the dock, and hour-plus boat ride to a small atoll in the middle of the ocean. You could basically see the island from end to end with one quick glance – the dive shop and dock, a few cabanas with front porch hammocks, a mess hall, and a cool thatched- roof bar (really, what else do you need?)
We prepared for our first dive and unfortunately were extremely rushed getting out to the boat. Scuba diving requires a ton of shit. And you really need to be focused and calm and prepared to get the most out of a dive – like you still alive at the end of it. So we are crashing around with all of our crap, racing across the beach to the boat — everyone is already there waiting, they had been at the place several days before us and were in the swing of it. We take off and everyone gets geared up while the boat is going at warp speed. We watch with fascination one special couple we later dub “HC” — for hard core. They looked like they were preparing for battle. I mean they were all business, super-fast and super-serious, unsmiling and ready when we stopped a few minutes later, already at our dive site.
Meanwhile, we’re still tripping around, trying to find our sea legs. We had some new gear which we should have used during the “refresher course” we took at a local dive shop before leaving Charlotte, but what dumb asses we were — practicing everything with our old crap and deciding at the last moment to replace it all. So, suffice it to say, we were a bit of a mess: unorganized, distracted, exhausted.
So the first dive was a bit of a disaster.
We get back to the island and have an hour or so before we are to head out again. I walk slowly up the beach to our digs, sunglasses hiding the tears streaming down my face. I just start this random prayer in my head: God, I am so so thankful for my boring life back home and my precious children and I will never ever ever dream of thinking a bad thought about my sweet, safe existence with air to breathe and ground to walk on. Thank you, God, for letting me survive that dive so that I can appreciate my beautiful safe little life.
[you see how long that lasted. oh well.]
But how I ached in my heart in that moment for my babies; how far away Charlotte, North Carolina seemed.
So then we are back in our cabana and my poor, sweet, just-turned-forty husband looks at me and takes a deep breath. Carefully weighing his words, knowing how upset I am but also thinking Shit, dude, are you kidding me? This is my birthday celebration I have been planning for months? One crappy dive and then a meltdown? Just the two of us miserable on a deserted island? Awesome. Just perfect. But what he actually says is something like, “Whew, that was rough. So . . . do you think you are going to be able to head back out there again?”
And the thing is, already I know I want to do it. For one thing, clearly I couldn’t have any worse of a time than I have already had (and still be alive to bitch about it). And secondly, I know I want to get in the water and have that weightless, peaceful feeling and see all of the amazing things you see — and you cannot believe how beautiful and miraculous it is and that you are right in the middle of it, the rhythm of your breathing soothing you through the water. I loved diving in another life. There was a reason why. It had just been awhile.
So we head back to the boat. “HC” are starting their freaking military drill but we don’t let it phase us. We methodically move through our equipment, having corrected the earlier issues. We wait until we are really ready and then jump in. And breathe deep. (An important rule in scuba, and in life: Don’t forget to breathe).
And then an amazing thing happens. We are in the water, seeing all kinds of fabulous things. Bright coral, fish, spotted eagle rays, and then it appears. A most beautiful sea turtle comes into our line of sight, swimming slowly just ahead. He is so perfect I almost forget the # 1 rule, and I have to remind myself to inhale. I don’t move while he glides gracefully past, swimming some yards away.
Then he stops. And he turns. And comes right towards me. I mean, he just comes to me and looks straight at me with those gleaming, ancient- looking eyes.
Here’s the thing. One of my sons, since he was a toddler, has been obsessed with turtles. Like, loves everything turtle. Collects little ones made of stone or plastic or rubber. Draws them incessantly. When my baby says “Mommy, I’m your snuggle bunny” the older one counters with, “And I’m your snuggle turtle.” (Which is really about right).
So to see this amazing creature come to me, after missing my sons so badly . . . to have him be with me in that water on that gorgeous sunny day . . . it was indescribable, really. Except I felt the most wonderful sense of peace, and connection, and love.
And all because my husband turned forty and I got back in the water again.
So yeah, I am excited about 2010; this, my fortieth year. Don’t know if there are miracles in store for me for my big birthday, but I promise this: Whatever happens, I’ll keep you posted.