There are things I say I like, and really do like, except when they’re actually happening.
Take snorkeling, for example. I took a skin diving class while in college (one of many PE classes that I took because that is what you do when you are in school for longer than you should be) and was really into it for a while. Whenever we hit the beach, I would take my entry-level mask and snorkel to look at fish and corals and, often, trash near the shore.
Each time, though, without fail, I freak out at the undersea life (case in point) and am convinced something will go wrong and I will die. I once followed a sea horse off Sibale island in Romblon, and I was all right until we reached the point where the sea floor drops off until you can’t see it anymore.
The stream of curses I let loose may or may not have scared a group of whale sharks into straying into the area of Oslob town in faraway Cebu province where they now attract tourists who sometimes ride them for fun.
Once, while snorkeling in Coron, our boatman offered to bring us to an area to look at humphead wrasses (he called them Mameng, which is a cute name that does not fit the fish at all) and I spent the entire time alternately praying that we’d see one and that we wouldn’t.
To be fair, we’d already checked out a Japanese ship that sank in World War II earlier that day and my grip on sanity had been slipping even then. I keep doing it, though, and I’m not quite sure why.
I feel the silence and isolation of diving has a lot to do with it. Also, the zen-like focus brought by the realization that, man, your deadlines and drama don’t really matter right now because there is probably a sea snake hiding in that clump of sea grass that is uncomfortably near your crotch.
I plan to take scuba diving lessons this year. Part of the training is actually diving into the sea, at which point, I will probably lose my shit.
I feel the same way about tattoos. I like getting them and having them, although the explanation that I get one for each heartbreak sounds sillier at every retelling*.
While the needle is actually going into your skin, though, you eventually to ask yourself how you ended up letting some guy hurt you like that. The answer generally being because you let someone else hurt you like that, physical pain taking the place of emotional pain etcetera and vague hand gestures.
It’s how I deal with some stuff, though, and I guess I’ve done it often enough to believe it works. But the latest one will be my last. I’d like to think that I’ve reached a point where I can handle pain and disappointment by actually handling them instead of trading one pain for another.
My last tattoo wasn’t even about that, really. It was about me not marking failed relationships with pretty much permanent reminders that I will see every time I take a shower.**
This time, in case someone asks about my latest tattoo, I can just say that a friend drew it and I really liked it so I had it done. Or I could probably say it’s a remembrance of that time I wrestled a monster and won. Either/or, really.
*For accuracy, I did get some tattoos just because. Just because I like chimpanzees, for example. Or just because I was at the mall one time and there was guy doing tattoos and it seemed like a good idea to get one. (It was not)
** I don’t, actually. I mean, I take showers but hardly notice the tattoos. I don’t break down in tears every time I take a bath is what I’m saying.