Then there was the time I almost drowned.
Riptides are no jokes. That’s the first thing to take away from this. This was during a trip to Costa Rica I took during a college excursion. We were on a beach called Manuel Antonia beach, which was gorgeous, long and sandy. I had never seen anything like it. It was totally unlike the beaches in the Northeastern U.S. that I grew up visiting, where you could run from one end to the other and destroy your feet on rocks along the way.
We were in college, so we had been drinking beers on the beach from a cooler. There were girls in bikinis to impress and idiot friends to best so somehow I ended up swimming, hard, aggressive stroke after aggressive stroke, toward Japan, or Hawaii. I only came up, or tried to came up, when I felt a wave hit me and I suddenly realized I was being tossed by the waves and I wasn’t sure which way was up.
Naturally, I freaked out. And naturally, when I freaked out, I swallowed water. And naturally when I swallowed water, I freaked out some more.
They speak of a calm that overcomes the drowning victim, or the near drowning victim. I guess I wasn’t that close to drowning because I didn’t feel any kind of calm. I managed to get to the surface, hacking and coughing, and trying to stay afloat. It was a struggle. I went under a few times. I heard shouting from the beach. It was clear something was going wrong.
I slapped at the water, and realized that I was being pulled out. Somehow, my oxygen deprived brain managed to remember that you can’t fight against the tide. You have to go parallel to it. Which I did.
I can honestly say I have never been so tired, so desperate for land, or so angry that there weren’t lifeguards around. This was a situation where my life needed guarding. I have appreciated lifeguards ever since in a way I never did before. I imagine their jobs are filled with long stretches of boredom, punctuated by moments of excitement and action. Which is why, with the power of video editing, the profession would be perfect for a reality TV treatment, which the Weather Channel has provided.
I’ll be watching.