a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
My family and I have done quite fascinating things together, but our first time snorkeling was a milestone I would never forget.
Swarms of fish swam under me as I listened to my heavy breathing.
Earlier that day…
It was a comfortably warm and windy day in Honolulu, Hawaii. My family and I were driving to Hanauma Bay, a snorkeling place. It was a bumpy ride, and my brother drifted off to dreamland as I drowsily stared out the window at trees and bushes. My eyelids fluttered. The bumpy, gravel ride eventually rocked me to sleep.
I yawned and stared outside. Suddenly, it hit me like a cat pouncing on a ball of yarn. We were at Hanauma Bay. I felt like I was a ticking time bomb and I was going to explode from excitement any second. My hand practically flew to my seat belt and I jumped out of my seat, almost hitting my head on the ceiling. Jittery with anticipation, I knew I had waited a long time for this. As I rounded the car with skips in each step, I patiently waited for my mom to open the trunk so we could get our beach essentials.
As me and my family marched down to the beach, me leading, we were all eager to start snorkeling. People glanced at us as we marched down the hill with hops in each step.
“Thank you,” my mom said as the renting person handed me, my brother, and my mom a handful of snorkeling supplies. My dad didn’t know how to swim so he would sit on our beach towel and do whatever he wanted.
As I neared the sand, my flip-flops kicked up dust and sand, but I couldn’t care less. The palm trees danced in the wind and the sun reflected off the water. I looked out in the distance as the soft, gentle wind blew against my face. The surroundings were unfamiliar as I looked around.
The second I put on my snorkeling stuff, I could taste the saltiness through my breath and I immediately felt the urge to take the mask off as well as the breathing mouthpiece. I felt like a duck as I walked in my flippers, careful not to stumble. Because it was my first time snorkeling, I carried a huge, neon pink swim ring, just for safety.
I got to the edge of the water safely and the baby waves rushed at my duck feet. I was so excited. The second the freezing water touched my bare skin, my arms formed goosebumps and I shivered from my spine.
I glanced back to make sure my mom and my brother were catching up to me. I started growing impatient so I yelled, “Come on!” That got them walking faster.
I put on my goggles and then lowered my body into the chilly water.
The sight was UNBELIEVABLE until now. There were corals of all different shapes and sizes, and swarms of fish that made my eyes blind at the very sight of them. The soft ripples pushed against my body but I ignored them, kicking my flipper feet as a sudden surge of power pushed my light body swiftly forward.
I swam around for a while, utterly amazed by the sights. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I saw something. It was huge. It was colorful. I turned a 90 degree angle and faced the huge, colorful, thing. What I saw is something I can’t even describe. My heart stopped beating. My brain stopped sending messages to my body. What I saw was a 12 inch by 12 inch fish, but the size wasn’t the only thing that caught my eye. My eye was frozen on the rainbow-colored scales. I could have sworn I saw the fish look at me for a moment. For a split second, I relaxed. I blinked. I was sure the fish winked at me. I started to kick forward through the heavy water, but the fish knew - it was like the fish only wanted me to see it.
I lifted my head out of the water and spit out the mouthpiece with a powerful force. Images of the fish were processing in my mind. I looked around, hopeful for any sight of a bright, colorful fish. Nothing. Slouching, I dragged my feet, heavy as stones, back to our beach towel. I slumped down onto the beach towel, sending a sudden poof of sand, like someone drying their hair. The image of the fish came into my mind all of a sudden, but then went out of my ear. Suddenly, I was anxious to tell my family about the fish. I looked around, then spotted my mom. Kicking up sand, I jogged up to her and began telling her about the fish.
“And it had rainbow colored scales….” Her eyes widened when I said rainbow colored scales.
“Wow,” my mom said. I beamed, and my mood turned from upside-down to right-side up. My heart soared as I put on my snorkeling gear once again. I waddled to the water and went in with no hesitation.
“Time to go!” my mom called.
“How long have we been here?” I asked.
“3 hours,” she answered.
“Whaaat?!?” I couldn’t believe it. It felt like 10 minutes. Slowly, I dragged my body to our beach towel, my mind saying, “Noooooo! Let’s stay!”, but the rest of my body said, “Let’s obey mom.”
After all our stuff was packed up, we started walking up again. I took one last look at the glittering waters of Hanauma Bay, tucked the image away into my memory, and started walking up the hill, slow as a sloth. As we rounded the corner, the trees blocked the view of the beach. Now, I have gone snorkeling multiple times, and I still remember the rainbow-scaled fish I saw the first time I went snorkeling. That trip was an experience I would never forget.
* = Editors' Choice work
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