My interest in being underwater goes back a long way, so let me see if I can collect all my thoughts on the matter.
I began my love affair with water when I was about 10 years old. For most of my childhood, water was something curious, almost forbidden to me. I knew how to swim, of course, and I did so often, but actually putting my head underwater struck me as something so exciting that I was almost too nervous to try it.
Underwater scenes in movies and on TV fascinated me endlessly, especially ones where people kept their clothes on. I wanted to try it, but something in the back of my mind still held me back.
Finally one day, while I was swimming in a friend's pool, I finally mustered up enough courage to submerge myself completely, and it was like I'd entered another world, a quiet realm of blue light and bubbles that I never wanted to leave. I'd had no idea what I was missing!
Thereafter, of course, I had to find a way to go underwater with all my clothes on. I thought about faking a fall into my friend's pool, but I knew my parents would make me get out again right away, and I wanted to stay underwater for a long time, as long as I could. I didn't have a pool myself, so that made it even tougher.
Throughout my preteen years, I would try to sneak a clothed bath here and there, but I'd never get to the point where I could put my head underwater in the tub.
It wouldn't be until high school, when I was about 15 years old, that I finally succeeded! On the last day of school before Christmas vacation, I came home to find the house completely empty. My younger sister was staying over at a friend's house, and my dad wouldn't be home from work for another three hours. Knowing what I had to do, I leaped into action.
I still remember what I was wearing that day: jeans, socks, and a green plaid button-down shirt unbuttoned over a gray t-shirt. I thought about keeping my shoes on, but I knew they'd take too long to dry afterwards.
So I filled up the tub and, trembling slightly with excitement, put one foot in the water. Instantly, my sock and my pants leg were saturated, and I could feel my heart nearly banging out of my chest with the thrill that I was actually doing this.
I thought "Well, there's no turning back now!" and I got into the tub completely, lying back and soaking myself from the shoulders down. I admired my clothes, submerged completely and wafting around a bit in the water, and I knew there was only one thing left to do. I took a deep breath, held it, and allowed my head to slide beneath the surface of the water.
Silence was all I heard, blurred porcelain was all I saw, silvery-white bubbles were all I could breathe. I blinked as my eyes adjusted to the water, then reached up and ran my fingers through my jet-black hair. I turned and looked up at the surface of the water mere inches above my face, and I could see the blurry outline of the light on the bathroom ceiling flickering down at me, filtered through the barrier that was the world of water, in which I was now a very delighted visitor.
I blew a cloud of bubbles through my nose and smiled, letting water flood the inside of my mouth. All too soon I had to come up for air again, but I must have dunked myself about fifty more times that afternoon. After I was done, I drained the tub, changed into dry clothes, and threw the soaking-wet ones into the dryer for an hour. Nobody was any the wiser!
These clothed baths kept up for many years after, always in secret, as I took every opportunity when I was left home alone to submerge myself. But soon, I knew what I really wanted. I needed a pool, one where I could swim for hours and really move around underwater. And fortunately, I got my wish in college.
I found a Quality Inn in my town where the management didn't care if you wore street clothes in the pool. Perfect! I gathered up a change of clothes, paid the $9 visitor's fee, and stepped into the muggy indoor pool room. Much to my delight, on the morning I had chosen to take my first swim, nobody else was there.
I was wearing an outfit almost identical to the one I'd worn on my first bath in high school. The key difference this time was that I was leaving my shoes on. I'd discovered the box fan trick to drying out wet shoes, and I was ready to take full advantage of it!
Rather than jump in, I decided to savor the experience and walk slowly down the steps of the shallow end. On my first step, I felt the warm water gush over the edge of my sneakers, and I knew I was in for a treat. Once I'd waded out to the point where the shallow end dropped off into the deep end, the water level was only up to my stomach, but I fixed that soon enough, as I let myself sink beneath the surface.
My hair was a lot longer now, almost shoulder length, and I felt it trailing above my head as I submerged completely. I blew a long, thick cascade of big silvery-blue bubbles from my nostrils as I sank, listening to that irresistible glub-glub sound that only exists in the underwater world.
Sitting on the pool floor, listening intently to the nothingness rushing against my ears, I opened my eyes and surveyed my watery realm. Blue as far as I could see. I looked down again at my clothed body, floating comfortably an inch off the concrete floor of the pool, and I was overcome with the thrill of the experience. I twisted around in my gravity-free environment, pushed off the floor with my sneakered feet, and swam headlong into the shallow end, leaving a trail of bubbles from my nose that rose slowly to the surface, like tracks showing where I'd been.
Since then, I've gone back to that pool more times than I can count, often with my underwater camera, so I can document my swims and share them with those who have a similar interest in the liquid world. My girlfriend has joined me on numerous occasions (clothed, of course), and she enjoys the swim just as much as I do!
Being underwater with my clothes on puts me at ease after a hard day, lets me work out my thoughts, and always gets me in a good mood.
Now, if I could only get a pool of my own.