November 2, 2009

Back in '88

The world of scuba is not new to me. Memories of my childhood are littered with weekends away on dive trips, surrounded by big people dressed in rubber and lots of funny looking backpacks we weren't to touch. I've been naked in a tub more than once (Fig. 1, above) while Dad hosed stuff down in the backyard. My parents met through diving, so it was always part of their lives together, and subsequently part of my life with them.

Mum and Dad would sometimes take my sister and I along on their scuba trips, mainly to local beaches but once as far away as Vanuatu. I remember the big house we'd stay in with Dad's diving mates, the gear all spread out after a day in the ocean, and eating hot chip sandwiches. Christmas usually featured a crayfish, snapped up from the sea not too long before. Summer nights we'd sit out by the pool, eating scallops or the calamari my sister called 'the chewy stuff'. Every now and then, something weird would come home in Dad's bag. There was a blue-ringed octopus in the kitchen sink one time, and he got put in a jar of spirits and taken to school the next day. Even now, the sun shines into our dining room through a window full of dinglehoppers (Fig. 3) and snorfblatts.
Dad worked in a dive shop for many years, mainly the ones where we were too young to be left at home on school holidays. Plenty of days were spent messing up the shop while he filled the tanks. I'd try to pick up the lead weights and put snorkels on while asking Dad how much everything cost - he always knew the price of everything. Sometimes he'd get sick of Sally and I and stick us in the classroom upstairs. We'd draw on the whiteboard with permanent markers and then we'd be back downstairs again, getting in the way until he took us to the bakery for lunch.

I'd asked about diving when I was younger, and Dad gave me the PADI book to read. He said when I finished it, he'd get me in the pool. I got through Chapter 1, then High School rolled around and the manual was lost beneath textbooks and Girlfriend magazines. We stopped going on trips with Mum and Dad, and Dad stopped working in the dive shop. The wetsuits get used occasionally, but generally people are busy with other things.

I certainly didn't think it would take journeying to the other side of the world, but it would seem history has the habit of repeating itself. Now, with all the spare time in the world, and the convenience of a boyfriend working as a Dive Master, it's all back again (see Fig. 2, above). The smell of damp neoprene, salty kisses and hot chips for lunch - I think I could get used to this.

Dad, if you're reading this, you'd better get your wetsuit out because when I get home you're going to need it.

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  1. THe pool cover came off at the weekend Kate. Keep those diving skills, we haven't had crayfish for a while!

  2. You write so lovely! Keep up the good work!