IN THE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM
BLUE HOLES, Palau I surface from one of the world's greatest dives. And wish I could magic it all away. Or dial back a few hours, at least.
Seven a.m. was a good time. A kinder gentler time. My friend Steph and I were practicing yoga on a rough-slab dock. Below us, a sand-colored shark nosed over the iron shards of a WWII pier.
Seven a.m. was before the ghetto wetsuit: the one with the ripped-out bottom. Before the divemaster said, "I will be your depth meter" and "you don't need an octopus (back-up mouthpiece a standard accessory now*)."
Seven a.m. was before the high seas, the sullen six-foot waves smacking around the motorboat.
And before said waves made the classic Blue Holes entry drifting through the reef's peekaboo portals into a cathedral of sunshot blue impossible. Instead we descended to 70ft and blundered into the dark, silty cavern.
Before the seasickness. Before Janet's regulator malfunctioned. Before Bronwyn's second-degree sunburn. Before Steph's congestion forced her to call the dive, surfacing with a bloody nose and one deaf ear.
"I bruised my eardrum in Honduras," I console her, scrambling aboard the boat. "It'll be fine in a few days."
"But I just missed the Blue Holes," she cries. "I traveled halfway around the world and missed the BLUE HOLES."
I blurt: "German Channel was much better yesterday: all the sharks, the manta, the coral."
"Oh yeah. I could barely see anything in the cavern, certainly none of the big tuna and wahoo down deep. And the holes were patches of fuzzy green. Kinda like being inside a giant washing machine ... In a way, Steph, you're lucky. You still have the Blue Holes ahead of you, while I caught 'em on a rare mediocre day."
She hugs me. "Even if you're lying, you're a great friend." Then the Atlanta belle turns all steel magnolia: "And never, ever tell me if you lied."
Good thing I didn't.
*After some squabbling, he did, finally, monster together two regulators with "an island wrench".