I have a bit of an irrational fear. I am afraid of sea creatures. I play it off like I don’t like dark water, but the truth is, I’m nervous swimming alone in a chlorinated pool.
A few summers ago, my family went to Minnesota for a vacation, and we went water skiing and tubing on the lake. It was this trip that I realized I had a problem. When it was my turn to ski, I forced my sister into the water with me. I’m guessing that my family assumed I was afraid of water snakes or something. If only that were true. In reality, I was convinced that a person eating sea monster had been living undiscovered in this very lake for the last several years, and, if left alone in the water, I would surely be eaten by it. I knew that forcing Colleen into the water with me didn’t necessarily guarantee my safety, but it dramatically improved my chances of survival. I am embarrassed to admit that.
With this is mind, fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. Thailand. The ocean. Quite a bit larger than a Minnesota lake with ample room for any number of actual sea monsters, let alone sharks. So, I had a bit of a predicament. Face certain death, or go to the beach and not swim. I decided to swim. I usually only go out to about my waist or a bit higher, but this time, I went up to my neck and even a bit farther at times. It was terrifying, but I kept saying to myself, “This is Thailand. Get in the water!”
Our second day there, we went on an island hopping trip where we were able to go snorkeling twice. As if swimming unaware of what’s around me isn’t enough, to see it almost seems like too much, but I’ve been snorkeling twice before and loved it both times. This time, I’ll just be honest, I was ridiculously brave. I was out by the edge of the island, away from everyone else, and it was incredible. I would pop my head up every once in a while, freak out about how far away I was, and then keep going because the farther I went the more incredible the fish and coral became.
At one point, we jumped off the boat into the ocean at a fairly deep part. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, but have been too afraid to. Immediately after I jumped in, my thought was, “This is it, Kari. This is how it ends. These are your final moments on Earth.” But, I obviously was not sucked into the depths of the ocean by my ever looming sea monster, and I found that the more time I spent in the ocean the more comfortable I became. Our last day there, I went swimming alone. I know. I can hardly believe it myself.
I know what my mom is thinking. Did you put on sunscreen? I did. Every day except the last day because I had planned to just sit in the shade all day. Apparently, 30 minutes in the morning plus the reflection off the water was enough to fry my skin and give me sun poisoning on my shins. My shoulders are still peeling. The crackly kind of peeling where a whole section pries off at once. I love that. It definitely made carrying my corpse sized back pack a joy.