Water surrounds me. I am chest deep in a place that is neither a pool, nor the great wide ocean. It is something in between. Wild, gently rippling water encased in cement walls far away, so far as to give the illusion of “nature,” though I sense some calculated design. The water’s surface is mostly flat, rippling like an almost-still lake, it’s water line punctuated only by several dozen people and sparse tall boulders that sprout from the floor of sand. On my face is a plastic snorkel mask, in my mouth is the breathing tube connecting me to the world of mammals.
My face stays below the water’s surface and I survey the world below. The water is almost clear, each handful is clear as glass, but all added together, contained as it is, it has a tinge of blue. I feel the warmth of the sun overhead, a strong yellow sun that seems so close I could grab it. The blue sky weighs on my shoulders like a roof, like something firm and heavy stands just a few feet away, peering over me like a mother’s watchful eye. It is oppressive and near, and I keep my head below the surface, shying away from its presence.
With a full breath in my lungs, I move slowly through the water, moving my arms and legs gently, as slowly as possible, trying my best not to disturb the water and the layer of soft white sand by my feet. As I paddle and move my arms through the liquid, I look down at the wide-faced flowers growing on corkscrew stems from the white sand floor. The flowers are round, the size of large dinner platters with deep centers and three protruding yellow stamens. The petals look like silk in the water, so thin and soft and shimmering slightly. Most of them are a fire engine red, but sprinkled among the thicket are bright yellow blooms.
I move slowly through the water, careful not to disrupt the sandy floor, very aware of my space in the world. Close by are other people in bathing suits. I can hear them squealing in delight as they splash in the water, swimming as though they haven’t seen the white ocean floor or the red and yellow flowers. Their movements create water ripples and send white sand storms below the surface. I wait patiently and watch as the sand floats back to the bottom, calm once again. I watch the flowers until I hear another shriek and another flurry of sand clouds my vision.