I found my SCUBA logs

Our son takes a coding class on Tuesday nights, and to entertain myself while I lingered last night in a squeaky bean bag on the floor of Techpad, I dug out my dive logs from my SCUBA years.

I became certified to dive at age 12. My dive master was a giant ex-Navy-seal named André. He was big and loud and uncouth, and he made me feel safe, and I loved him. Through my high school years my family dove with André and the Savannah dive club, driving to Crystal River or West Palm Beach on long weekends, and we took diving vacations each summer. We spent all of our spare time underwater.

Sadly, I didn’t journal about our dive trips or write about my love for being underwater. In those days I only wrote about things I didn’t understand: boyfriends, atoms, the universe. (But mostly boyfriends). I didn’t write about being underwater because I didn’t feel the need to analyze or dissect it; I only cared about getting underwater and staying there. I wasn’t at a point yet to appreciate that I would one day thirst for those descriptions.

But I did keep dive logs, with depths, temperatures, notes on what we saw and where, how many hours I’d logged underwater, and who was with me on the dives. These are some of my favorites.

From 1988, when I was 13. We were maybe 20 or 30 miles offshore, and the seas were big. I’m shocked I wasn’t seasick. What I love about this one is that we could feel the surge of 8 foot seas when we were 50 feet underwater. I remember that feeling, of moving with invisible waves, being lifted and dropped at the bottom of the ocean.

Andrea Badgley dive log 1988

8 ft seas. Felt a surge 50 feet underwater.

From 1989, when I was 14. I don’t remember being underwater during a storm, but I love the thought of sitting on the bottom and looking up, watching lightning flash and rain patter the surface:

Badgley dive log, 1989

Underwater during a storm

From 1990, when I was 15. “Mom had a cow.” That makes me laugh every time I see it. Also, I love that I used a semicolon in this one:

Badgley dive logs, 1990

Journey to my 15 yo self

Also from 1990, age 15. I love this one for my dad’s handwriting. I have letters from my grandmother in her handwriting, and something about seeing her handwriting makes me feel close to her even though she’s gone. My dad is still alive, thankfully, but when I came across my dad’s writing in this one, it made me feel close to him like my grandmother’s handwriting makes me feel close to her:

Badgley dive logs, 1990

Dad’s handwriting

From 1995, age 20. On the field course when I met the man who is now my husband. I didn’t know at the time of this entry that I was in love with him, though it seems obvious to me now:

Badgley dive logs, 1995

Five days before I realized I was in love

Try not to push

We spent the weekend poolside at the aquatic center as our 9 year-old daughter competed in the district championship meet. I always get teary-eyed when I go to meets: athletes inspire me, especially young athletes, and most especially my own young athlete. When I get emotional I like to scribble notes about my surroundings, and as I scratched descriptions in my notebook this weekend, I remembered a piece I wrote a couple of years ago, when our daughter entered the pool first time for stroke school, the pre-swim-team team.

“Ready… GO!” The blonde, freckled, 30-something coach is barefoot on the pool deck, his chinos rolled above his ankles. His pant legs are wet, despite his precautions.

“Ready… GO!” He watches a stopwatch, watches the deck clock, watches his yellow-capped, mirror-goggled swimmers race to the wall. They are five to a lane, their long, fast bodies occupying every inch of surface water. “Ready… GO!” His voice booms over the racket of splashing and cuts through the chlorinated air of the aquatic center. Swimmers power to the wall, one after another, and soak his cuffs as their feet rocket out of the water in flip turns. They glide underwater down the other side of the lane, then emerge, arms slapping, kicks rumbling.

“Ready… GO!” The entire pool rocks and churns, as if it were filled with sharks instead of swimmers. Sharks in a feeding frenzy, slapping the surface with their tails, rolling and snarling and frothing the water into a two foot chop.

Our seven year old daughter pays no attention to the older swimmers’ practice. She scans the pool deck, looking for her coach. “Mom, I think I see people from my group over there. Should I go over?” I nod to her and pat her arm encouragingly, then watch her little gymnast body, now clad in a racerback swimsuit, hot pink goggles dangling from her hand, as she strides to the other end of the pool.

“Ready… GO!” The amount of energy contained in these lanes makes me want to leap from my seat and do a thousand jumping jacks, or ride a bike up a mountain, or bench press 200 pounds. These swimmers are driven, powerful, disciplined. Everything we want for our daughter. They work together like a machine, one swimmer three feet in front of the next, breathe, stroke stroke, breathe, stroke stroke, flip at the wall, down the other side.

I am riveted. But we must tread carefully here. Our daughter is a natural athlete, lithe and flexible and very strong. When her gymnastics coach invited her to join the pre-competitive team, we were thrilled, and we signed her up. Only the pressure to excel was too intense for her. Her body was ready, but her psyche was not, and she came to dislike gymnastics, despite a natural talent for it. We don’t want to push her again.

“Good job! Good job!” The blonde coach is clapping, his rolled cuffs drenched by every athlete who makes a final lunge for the wall. With each “good job,” a swimmer finishes her workout, and a splash cycle disappears. The pool begins to calm. Swimmers pant, look over at the clock, up at their coach. The deafening roar quiets to a distinct splish here, a sploshing kick there, until there is just the swishing sound of water calming itself through lane lines, lapping against the side of the pool.

When our daughter gets in, I see her round cheeks and neon pink goggles as she hangs on the wall at the end of her lane. I smile and wave, and then laugh, remembering the day we bought her the goggles. She wore them on the couch while we read together. Three inches of clear strap flapped by her ears every time she turned her head. She was excited to transition from swim lessons to swim practice.

Her group’s laps begin, and the sound is like mullet jumping. Little splashes made with little arms. They are still five to a lane, but there are huge gaps between their tiny bodies. I see her bright pink eyewear, the clear strap flapping when she turns her head to breathe. I can distinguish her personal splash echoing in the acoustics of the aquatic center, making its way across the water to my heart.

Their coach speaks quietly to them when they reach the end of the pool. His jeans are rolled down, dry. Sunglasses hang around his neck from a neoprene strap. He crouches down to talk, forearms on knees, clasping his hands or gesturing. Lets these young ones catch their breath. When they are on their way again, he strolls around the pool to meet them at the other side.

At the end of practice, our daughter grins as her little wet feet slap towards me on the painted deck. My heart races at her joy. Then, tempering my enthusiasm, hiding my eagerness, I follow her coach’s calm lead. Gently, I ask, “How was it baby? Did you have fun?”