The First Time
I was thirteen years old. My birthday was behind the corner. And I ran out of imagination regarding what presents "to suggest" mom and dad.
I had everything: a PlayStation (yes, the original one), a portable CD player, a water resistant cellphone (who remembers navigating in the mobile web world called WAP?). Or so I believed.
Here's the first time I realised (or had to admit) that my dad is a genius.
He shows up in the living room, we were renting a small apartment close to the beach for the summer, and goes: "what about going scuba diving?".
Oddly enough, he doesn't remember this moment, but it changed my life.
You see, in his golden years he was sailing, playing tennis, being in a band (still to this day!), windsurfing and scuba diving. He'd taken me with him once or twice, play the watch atop the fly deck while with his pals they were looking for groupers at -40mt. On holiday we'd spend ages in the water, snorkelling. I had an inflatable boat to which I'd tether a rock, as an anchor, and paddle away to the rocky side of the beach to chase fish with mask and fins.
The rock never worked. The boat frequently sank. Plenty of sea urchins though.
Bottom line is, I loved everything about the water. For that one fish I'd breath hold until my head would spin. I'd run out of spit to defog my leaky old, borrowed mask.
And then there's this moment, thirteen years of age, where I am kneeling in the sand on a shallow and featureless Adriatic Sea bottom, in front of a not-so-skinny instructor whose mum made the best orecchiette al pomodoro ever.
I look around. I look at him. I am breathing.
I am freaking breathing underwater.
The smile is so big I loose my regulator. I don't know how to recover it yet. I still do, because I want to keep breathing underwater for a very, very long time.
It's been tweny years since that day, and scuba diving is my life.
Thanks dad, and happy birthday!