It was not an ideal day; tendrils of a passing typhoon made the sky and the seas ominous, and our boat ride over was choppy and wet. I had wanted to bring my digital SLR camera, but as I was leaving the house, Keith told me the ride over would be too wet, and he was right. I had a strange experience on those cresting waves though, while my companions battled seasickness and epic splashes. My mind was completely still, unaffected by the crash and slam of our roughshod journey, and I thought: I have had an amazing life. I have made the most of my opportunities, succeeded, done well, thrived. When I reach my mid-twenties, I will have lived most of my twenties outside of the United States and liked it that way. I have written fiction and published it, I have won awards and accolades for it, I have a future in the craft of writing. I even have friends who send me certificates of excellence for being awesome. I was sent to the Philippines, and though some days I have to force myself to make it through the next five minutes, I don’t regret joining Peace Corps and I don’t regret that I was sent here. How could I possibly regret that, when I get to do things like see a volcano in the backdrop of my city every day, go to a waterfall on a whim, island-hop and eat mangoes? Yesterday, I seriously, without doubt, knew that I was going to be here for the next two years, and today my sense of my permanency here only grew stronger. Nothing big, no change or event, just the silent knowledge that I am ready.
Snorkeling was also an incredible experience. I saw beautiful things, and because I’m legally blind without my glasses on, I saw them from a fuzzy distance, bursts of color, light and movement. I imagine I saw the underwater world as a newborn sees the open air one: all things are new, unknowable wonders, impressions, immediate and emotional rather than concrete. For me, there were no hard lines between one coral, one fish, one color and the next. I felt a great sense of peace though I could not make out the beauty of what I was seeing with any precision. All I could hear was the sound of my breath through the snorkel: inhaling from undearneath water, traveling through the tube, filling my mouth, my throat, my lungs, exhaling - the sound of it sharp in my ears. It seemed life-giving in a way I’d only thought of in terms of my heart before. It was elemental to be there, mostly blind, floating above a previously-inconceivable environment, listening to the rhythm by which I lead my life, this life. My own existence suddenly seemed both profound and utterly simple.
My day at Apo ended up not particularly being about the snorkeling. After lunch and an epic battle with coral, I was exhausted and didn’t go on a second snorkeling trip further out, where I knew I would be able to see even less. I managed to sleep sitting up, lying down and even upright and clutching hands with Megan on the rather terrifying boat ride home during which I thought we were definitely going to capsize. I have a hard week ahead of me; I can only describe my feelings on teaching in an analogy in which I am a bad comedian and my students are an unlaughing audience. It’s almost 6pm and I have dinner ahead of me, a community project for which I am absolutely out of my depths to plan and a skit with Sheryll to plan rather independently, both for tomorrow. And, if I knew what was good for me, I’d do my work on Cebuano. I am getting through this week with the knowledge that maybe this time next week I’ll know the location of my permanent site.