Edmonds, Washington My glove claws the algaed rope. As I descend into Puget Sound diving, at last, my own gear* my brain ricochets in its pan.
Oh, t'isn't the 48-degree slack tide or my sore, stuffy ear even. And I'd massaged away the leg cramp after the 20-minute surface swim. Never mind that I couldn't see Jackie or Scott through the silt either: they have my back, I know.
But on the other coast, a lifetime away, my grandmother Emma's lungs slowly brim with water.
Congestive heart failure.
Her breaths draw ragged, just like mine through the regulator. Except hers will stop soon.
I twist my thoughts away, settle my breathing, examine the sunken Seabus. Another story brought me here, not my own. For the Post-Intelligencer, I'm covering a handful of vigilante volunteers: some divers weary of committees and budget proposals. Anchored by an earnest "computer guy," they gathered here each Saturday, "got our butts in the water and did something".
Thirty-one years later, the city renamed this underwater park now a world-class dive site for their de facto leader: the Bruce Higgins Underwater Trails.
"No one else from the beginning is still involved," he laughs. "Life's moved on. But I'm a stick in the mud."
So today I plan to be like Bruce. I've picked just a few tasks, then I'm plunging in and doing them. No advance grieving for Grammy. No squirreling around on email, pretending to work. No deck beer-drinking on the first sunny weekend of, oh, forever in Seattle.
Well, maybe just one IPA to celebrate the ant eradication...
*All I need now is a drysuit. Well, that and a tank, which can wait: rentals suffice.