I have the seasickness. I’m not sure where I caught it, but put me on a boat with lumbering waves and it’s going to happen; my tummy’s gonna turn sour.
Years ago, before kids, Leah and I went on a Caribbean vacation that she won through work. One of the scheduled outings was a snorkeling trip. On a huge catamaran, in the ocean, where the waves live. I don’t think I was in full acceptance of my sickness then. I certainly didn’t tell Leah about it. And the beginning of the trip was fine. Maybe I would be ok. The bay was calm. I liked the bay. I thought let’s just stay in the bay.
We did not stay in the bay. Pretty quickly we were lurching up and down in the lousy open waters. The first mates started making margaritas and everyone was so smiley. Especially Leah as she asked if I wanted some of her margarita. I did not. I wanted the bay.
Eventually, the ship stopped, I assume near a reef or something. The captain and his mates started distributing snorkeling gear, and more margaritas for those who were just along for the ride. There were still a lot of waves. I thought getting in the water might heal my sickness.
It did not. It actually intensified the up and downess of the waves. I felt very alone bobbing in the sea with 30 strangers, all of them so happy to be tossing and turning.
I put on my snorkel mask. It smelled like rotten fish and coffee. That was tipping point. I released a cloud of chum into the water and for a split second felt relief. Then I learned something.
Fish love puke. I mean they loooooooove it. A literal school of fish attacked my vomit. Their mouths touched my mouth. I felt them all over my skin. That made me throw up again. Which, summoned more schools. And this ravenous, neon horde started attracting my fellow snorkelers. They swam over with ignorant excitement.
The waves kept coming up and down, and the fish kept eating my guts. I couldn’t stop giving it to them. I was the ice cream man dishing out scoop after scoop of free rainbow sherbet. I was a reluctant god, feeding creation and putting on a spectacular show for those who had eyes to see.
We eventually got back in the boat. The happy snorkelers told the non-snorkelers about all the beautiful fish they saw face to face. Leah asked if I had fun. I nodded. She asked if I wanted a margarita. I shook my head no. I wanted the bay, and then land. And maybe eventually, years into the future, solid food that I would share with no one.
Photo (Flickr CC) by icelight