I lost two toenails on my first honeymoon. I would go on to lose much more in that marriage, but it started with the loss of one last name and then two toenails, ripped right out by the angst of a tough tide in the Papagayo Peninsula of Costa Rica.
It was my first time scuba diving. Should have taken the life vest offered to me by the young water sports instructor or perhaps not have taken the two lemon drop shots offered to me by the bartender on the way to the shore. I was a novice scuba diver headed out with gear about to be baptized by the unpredictable tides.
Black and white sand beaches within my view and my black and white striped bathing suit matching the chiaroscuro of the whole afternoon. My partner, an experienced swimmer, stroked out into the spotlight of sparkling waves leaving me waddling on the shore. But it must have been a mirage because I dived out into the cove with the assurance that being in my mid-twenties afforded only to discover I was unable to wear the sparkles of the sea that afternoon.
It seemed so easy to float face down, a voyeur to the skittering fish and underwater fauna, posing for photos like a flipper’d celebrity, while the sun baked my back and the black cliffs overhead were hardcore punk rockers with lots of neon green tattoos. We were all so very cool drifting closer to the indifferent rocks, searching for the secrets not on shore, when tides started rushing fast pushing us like a mosh pit. I know I’m lucky I didn’t slice open a limb but instead slammed a flipper against the rocks ripping out two toenails. It was fortunate that the tide enjoyed tickling the rocks and then relenting for a tense moment of waiting fir more torture, so I could scramble back to the safety of the open sea.
There were more shots with the bandaging of toes, and the comment that should have told me I was as impetuous with my first scuba dive as I was with my first marriage when my partner said, “Well, at least you can say you lost something on your honeymoon.”
This piece was prepared in response to Flashback Track #17 Just Keep Swimming. The question-What’s your most memorable swimming experience? Hope you’ll join us in sharing your swim story.