Atmospheres

I set up my laptop to write on the balcony of our unit at Foresthaven, then reevaluated and shimmied my chair half a metre closer to the small table on the balcony. Closer to my source of wine. I poured a glass, popped in my headphones, and pushed play on my collection of Gaslight Anthem tunes. It was a tough day. iTunes says 1.4 hours. Go.

I was what should have been two-thirds, but was really one-half, of the way through my PADI Open Water course and had had a rather frustrating day. Everything up to this point had gone swimmingly (ha!), but with the first of my four open water dives, I ran into some issues. Well, really just one: my left ear.

When you are standing on the beach, you have what they call one “atmosphere” of pressure exerted on your body – the pressure of the air from the top of the atmosphere to where you stand. When you are 10 meters below the surface of the ocean, you have the equivalent of two atmospheres of pressure. This is not insignificant. Underwater, a lot of weird and freaky things happen to our bodies, as truthfully we really should just not be down there at all. One of these things involve the changing volume of air, and to glaze over most of the technicalities of it all, you need to “equalize” your air spaces as you descend into the depths. Think popping your ears. This is supposed to be done frequently and gently in order to accommodate all of this crazy changing air. And my right ear went right along with the plan, but the left one simply wouldn’t cooperate. After discomfort turned into pain, I was told to discontinue diving for the day. This was, to put it mildly, extremely frustrating. To pass your Open Water, you need to complete four open water dives (in addition to “confined water” dives, which we had done in the dive centre pool. There are meant to be two dives on each of the second and third days of the course. Luckily, I was diving with a sweet operation, Pleasure Divers in Magnetic Island, who accommodated me by offering to bring the dive instructor in on his day off (for the nonexistent fourth day of the course) so I could complete all of my dives. Actually, so we could complete all of our dives. My old co-worker, Nikkie, had decided to join me for the course and was also having problems. On the first day, she initially became so freaked out that she had to get out of the pool. Once she got into the swing of things on the second day, she was doing well. Until the ocean, where she got a bit nauseous and ended up feeding the fish and having to get out of the water. Think seasickness without the boat.

This turn of events really frustrated me. I felt like I had done well to get to the point where I was now comfortable diving – and this wasn’t easy. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fish. And now something that was not my nerves or my ability was messing with my opportunity to dive. I got an ice cream.

And then. Yes, there’s an “and then.” We haven’t heard about him in awhile, but my Sydney friend is still in the picture. We’ll call him Kiwi, as he hails from NZ (that’s “en zed” for all of my American friends). Kiwi has been off around the world in my original hemisphere chasing snow for the last few months. With a planned arrival back in Sydney around the end of March, and my schedule putting my back there a couple of weeks later, things were looking excellent for a reunion that was now only a few weeks away. And then. Kiwi found out that work didn’t have to be work for approximately another month, and after a courtesy “check” with yours truly, announced his arrival date in Sydney as April 28th, so as to spend a little extra time adventuring around North America. Fair. It does only add a couple of extra weeks to the countdown, really, but it was just the rotten cherry on top of a rough day.

I do see a silver lining in this, and here it is:

Diving: Personal challenge. I will smash it tomorrow. I will be killing it. Winning. BAM! Whatever, however you want to put it, I’m getting PADI’d in t-minus 48 hours.

Kiwi: Before Kiwi reunion time comes best friend reunion time. After Cairns, I am flying south to the Gold Coast (I should put a map of Australia somewhere on this blog.) to meet up with my old roommates from our Canada days. With less of a pull to get to Sydney in a timely fashion (assuming we are ignoring the diminishing bank account and need for a job and apartment), I can sit back in Goldie with my long lost partners in crime and drink all of the wine.

I will talk to you in two days, when I am officially a diver.

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