Two and Twenty

Wow, I’m old.

It being Sunday morning (afternoon) on the 19th of September, I have begun my 23rd year on the planet. In other words, I just turned 22. Saturday, the 18th of September, was an absolutely marvelous day. It began at midnight in the Aventura mall, after a “dinner” of cheesecake and a lovely, frivolous showing of Wimbleton complete with excessive sarcastic commentary from myself and Ana. Well done.

After the movie, 4 High School teachers piled on to a miniature racecar, plopped three quarters into a small slot on the dashboard, and rode away while the other moviegoers streamed out of the theaters. I sat demurely on the hood; let’s just say others didn’t quite behave in a manner befitting educational professionals. Oh, if the kids could see us now [grin]. At the end of our ride, exhausted from a long Friday at school and our exertions on the car, we extricated ourselves from the “vehicle” and observed that the weight limit on our toy was “75 pounds.” Ha. Did I say I was old?

The day really officially began on Saturday morning, when I woke up at a beautiful 9:00 to fix myself a nice little breakfast before the trip. One hour later, 10 young teachers arrived at Key Largo, everyone humming the lyrics to “Kokomo” irritatingly under their breath. We piled out of the car at midday, the sun brillant overhead at Pennekamp State Park, and paid for our snorkel gear. Once we were slathered up with sunblock, the captain of “El Capitan” (how creative, no?) called the 12:00 trip to board. As we lined up by the dock, my phone began to ring, so I fumbled with my fins to answer it before whoever was on the other line hung up.

Dad said hello, offered birthday greetings, and laughed uproariously when I told him I was in the Keys about to go snorkeling. Hell yeah, southern Florida! El Capitan shoved off in the mangroves, among manatee signs and ibises, taking us eventually 5 miles off the coast to Banana Reef. We hooked up to a mooring buoy in aquamarine waters, slipped into fins, spit in our masks, and dropped into the salty water.

One of my irrational fears is deep water; that vertiginous blue space with motes of plankton reflecting light, soft sunbeams spiralling into darkness, and all the large creatures below scares the crap out of me. I was heartened to find that our reef was never more than about 28 feet deep, and I could always see either sand and seagrass or chunks of coral.

One thing that’s odd about snorkeling though is that it’s so non-auditory that it can disorient you completely. Once you go under water, you hear the sound of the sand in the current, and not much else. You can be looking below you, floating peacefully, and all of a sudden everyone has disappeared from your horizon. You spot a 4.5 foot barracuda below you, feel the adrenaline surge in your veins as your heartbeat picks up, foolishly beat your fins loudly in a circle to turn around, and you smack right into your snorkeling buddy who was right behind you the entire time. There were several of those moments yesterday, much swallowing of salt water after dives, and much fogging of masks forcing everyone up to the surface.

There were also angelfish (regular and blue), barracuda, sergeant majors, wrasse, parrotfish (striped and spotlight), blue tang, needlefish, minnows, and countless other small colorful yet unidentifiable beauties. I felt like the giddy little six year old that memorized all the tropical fish cards in preparation for our trip to St. John’s and then refused to snorkel for a day because her mask leaked too much.

It was so refreshing, so NOT Miami, and so beautiful. Floating out on the water with hands dangling down into the depths, listeining to the sound of my own breathing through the snorkel tube, and marvelling at the abundance of life in the reef ebelow me was one of the best birthday presents ever. I’m so glad I went.

Icecream in the hot sun afterwards, and then a salty ride back to DPlace rounded out the afternoon before we all showered and prepared to head to the Carol City-Central football game at Traz Powell Stadium

NB: Cervantes is sprawled across my desk at the moment, with toes on the “y,” hyphen, “r,” and down arrow keys, his third eyelids glazed over, twitching contentedly in kitty dreamland. How cute is that? V. cute. Sometimes I forget he’s such a psychopath. Yesterday, he opened up a Nature’s Valley granola bar while we were gone, ripped the foil wrapper to shreds, and ate the entire 2 bars. Madness.

Anyway, so the TFA contingent broke up according to school loyalty: orange and black for Carol City, green and white on the Central side. The game began, the moldy concrete stadium filled with spectators, and the Miami Central Sr. High Rockets took the field. That’s the football team, the dance team, the flag girls, the cheerleaders, the band, the coaches, and the waterboys. Let me say that for my first High School football game ever, it was quite the event. Scandalized by the Carol City dance team’s uniform at halftime (transluscent white vinyl pants and matching crop tops), in hysterics over the spectacle of the entertaiment, we decided that we’d seen enough and headed home. Next time, I’m SO bringing my camera.

I arrived home to the smell of freshly baked cake, hung a picture with Mary, and invited over some of the D Place crowd for mudslides and conversation. Circa 11:30 the party died down after much hilarity with the cat, strong drinks, and butter pecan ice cream. A damn good night if I ever saw one.

Closed out the birthday feeling old again, after my positively juvenile activities of the night before, with a long-distance birthday greeting from Pennsylvania, dead asleep in my bed by 12:15. I had done the impossible, the unthinkable: I had a great birthday.

Now the grading encroaches on my Sunday afternoon, and the evening draws painfully close. I’ve got friends to call and thank, parents to greet, and much grading to be done by Monday, so I had better stop indulging myself, extricate the cat from my lap, and move on with my day, the birthday girl no longer =).

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