The Wall (We Don’t Need No Education)

The first wall dive of the trip. It’s funny how 90 feet seems so deep from the surface, but underwater I feel like I could sink another 90 feet and be just fine. It was a beautiful dive: lionfish sporting their spines like striped feathers (even their eyeballs are striped), a murderous-looking barracuda. Tiny, fluorescent indigo fish scattered among the reef like iridescent violets. There is something about the pressure of the water holding me tight and close, that makes me feel I could take out my regulator and slowly fill with water, crawl through the coral and sprout gills.

The second dive was another wall. Despite my best intentions to stick to 60 feet, I sank to 85. A reef shark passed over me and wagged silently into the distance. A barracuda came right me, then headed for T, then receded. (“May follow divers unnervingly closely,” reads the fish identification book.) A huge grouper pouted at me while a bright yellow cleaner fish flicked over its cheeks and jaw. I went up onto the deck into the sun. The Chilean captain was playing “Scarborough Fair” on repeat.


I’m readingĀ Larose by Louise Erdrich. It breaks my heart. Sometimes I think the best writing is the kind that breaks your heart.


We had a night dive tonight. I saw a violet blanket octopus. It was the most mesmerizing animal I’ve ever seen. First turquoise, then the peachy-gold of dawn, then marbles, it flowed through the water like mercury. Webs of skin scrolled around its arms, undulating like eerie veils, shivering every color of a tropical sunset. We gazed at it for what must have been 20 minutes when my computer beeped and I lost the light, and it swam off into the warm underwater night.


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