Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Falling in Love

Shortly before Valentine’s Day, my Facebook status announced that I would be spending Valentine’s Day weekend with my new love – scuba diving. At the time I posted that, I was thinking that maybe this is what Valentine’s Day should be about. Instead of bemoaning their single status, single people everywhere should just spend the day doing an activity they really love. Who needs roses, pink hearts and failed expectations when you are doing something you are passionate about? And then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the passion I feel for scuba diving really is sort of like falling in love.

I live for the weekends when I can be with my love. Weekdays I spend working, shopping for groceries, paying bills and doing other mundane activities. I wish I could be diving instead. I fill my spare time reading dive magazines and pouring over fish identification guides in anticipation of my next dive. On days when I am diving, I wake up energized and excited.

I relish my new identity. In the same way that I might take pleasure in being someone’s girlfriend or referring to someone as my boyfriend, I also take great pleasure in thinking of myself as a diver. Not everyone can be a diver. Some people can’t swim. Others can’t equalize the pressure in their ear or have other medical issues that prevent them from diving. Many just can’t afford it. But I am a diver. And I’m moving up the ranks too. I am a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver. Sometimes I just like to remind myself of that and shake my head in disbelief. It’s really happening to me. It’s something I have always wanted and now, at the age of 32, I can finally say I am a diver.

I am guilty of turning down opportunities to spend time with friends because I’d rather be with my new love. A couple of the other ELFs went to Tana Toraja this past weekend. It’s a place I really want to visit as well - someday. I told them I couldn’t make it and then I went diving in Gorontalo instead. Other ELFs are planning trips more trips in April and May, but really, I’d rather just stay home and dive.

I’m investing in a new wardrobe and accessories. Like any woman who wants to look good for her significant other, I decided the time had come for me to buy my own wetsuit. No more ill-fitting, too short or torn rentals for me! I traveled all the way to Jakarta to buy a new one. It’s beautiful – tight and black with pink stripes on the arms and torso. Hey, I need to look good for the fish! I also got an underwater flashlight, a dry bag, and a bottle of equipment wash.

I celebrate small anniversaries. With any new relationship, I always take notice of the small anniversaries. Has it been one week? One month? Two months? With diving I count my dives – 10, 20, 30 and now I’m closing in on 40. Each round number seems to be a major milestone in our relationship. My 20th dive was Jinn Caves in Gorontalo – the eerily beautiful submerged cavern at 18 m guarded by the rare Burgess butterflyfish and black coral bushes. My 30th dive was when I saw my first whale shark at White Point, Gorontalo. And I plan to complete my 40th dive this coming weekend in Bali. Who knows what wonders that dive will bring?

I dream about our future together. I really want to take the PADI Rescue Diver course this summer. I would also like to take some specialty courses such as Digital Underwater Photographer and Night Diver. Once I have my Rescue Diver certification, 5 specialty certifications and 50 logged dives, then I qualify to be a Master Scuba Diver – the highest non-professional level in recreational diving. I also dream about all the places I want to dive in Indonesia, such as Lembeh, the Togean Islands, Papua, Komodo, Flores, and Maluku.

Counting from the day I got my Open Water certification, I am seven months in to what I hope will be a relationship that will last the rest of my life. So, I just want to apologize to all my readers who were hoping my blog might be more focused on teaching or language or cultural challenges. At the moment I’m preoccupied with diving so that’s what I’m writing about. I can’t help it – I’m a woman in love.


  1. So NOW I know why you've been blogging less this month... you're head over heels! I love this post: so happy, so fun. And you're right- why not celebrate Valentine's Day with the one (thing) you love most?!

  2. A very clever post. What a surprise that it's through teaching in a small city that you've become a real diver. Maybe a bit less of a surprise if one looks at a map of Indonesia and sees how close Gorontalo is to the sea, but still a surprise.

    You've made me think: if I get a posting, how can I make sure I'm open enough to something new and transformative like this. I keep thinking that wherever I go, I'll learn the language to reading and speaking fluency. But for me that's not a new thing and confining my hopes to something like this is really missing out on what such a posting can me. Something really new.

    Reading your blog the past several months, I feel honored to have been able to watch this metamorphosis as it was happening.

    Do you worry that Yogya's going to be further from the salt water? Then again, Java's not big, so nowhere is really very far from the sea.

    Keep blogging and diving and taking photos.

  3. Oh, Danna, I love this post! Katie's right: it's so happy and fun. :-) I always look forward to reading about your diving adventures and all the fascinating creatures you've spotted. Each time I read, I become more interested in becoming a diver too! Can't wait to go diving together in Indonesia someday. ...And by the way, the pic of you snorkeling by that magnificent piece of coral is my new wallpaper.

  4. Thanks, everyone! I do love my new hobby!