Growing up, I was blessed with opportunities to go on adventures with the Braille Institute of America and the Junior Blind of America. These adventures ranged from fishing, (which I am kind of terrible at but
truly love being on boats), to rock climbing, (Which I hate with a fiery passion), to ropes courses and even white-water rafting. I can say I was a truly lucky kid, able to experience such grand things for such minimal cost to my family.
This adventure occurred on a trip with the Braille Institute. We had traveled from Los Angeles to Sand Diego to participate in a day of water activities in Mission Bay. While kids enjoyed water skiing, inner tubing, jet skis, and boat rides, I loved to go and just swim in the bay, letting the sun warmed my skin and little 10-year-old me frolicked.
Being the child that I was, (and still tend to be), I got a bit carried away with having fun. The people watching us had known me growing up and knew that I was adept at swimming. So, it’s not quite their fault that I, also being the youngest of three, was adept at slipping under the radar. To their credit, they tried. I just knew how to swim unseen!
While I had snuck away farther into the bay, I got lost in pretending to be a mermaid/dolphin/scuba diver. I jumped, splashed, and let the water’s force push, pull, and tumble me every which way, while I flailed and laughed and had the best time. It was just me and nature, best friends at the core. Or so I thought. I think nature has a rather different story. When I was finally spotted and reprimanded to come to shore so we could get ready to go, I lazily swam back, trying to stay in my new haven for as long as possible. Knowing what I do now, I wish I had stayed in longer.
As soon as I stood up, shaking water out of my curly hair, I knew instantly that something was wrong. Call it, an itching feeling. An itching, pinching, crawling feeling. I stood in mute horror as some unknown creature inched and scuttled its way up my skin under my bathing suit. My fight or flight instinct was not up to par. As most will explain it to this day when I ask, it “Looked like you realized you had ants in your pants.” Too accurate.
When the shock finally wore off, (it only took being pinched on the nipple by this demon spawn from the sea floor), I tore back into the water, screaming as I ripped off my Lilo and Stich bathing suit, flinging it this way and that as I tried to free my suit from the little crab that finally showed itself. It took about 10 minutes of sheer terror, followed by 25 minutes of uncontrolled hysteria while I tried to wriggle back into my suit, frantically checking every inch just in case it had somehow survived my thrashing. Once assured, I got myself back into the suit and silently slunk back to shore, grabbing a towel, and trying my hardest, cheeks flaming, not to be noticed. More importantly, I was hoping the volunteers for the day didn’t see naked ten-year-old me.
To this day, I remember that trip with both horror and peaks of uncontrollable laughter. I have gone back to Mission Bay plenty of times since, I’ve just been religiously careful with nature’s shellfish that may or may not be out to reap my soul. I only managed to tell this story now at the suggestion of Meka’s close friend Cindy. This post is for you, Cindy. I hope you laughed!