Picture the people in your life. Father, Mother, sibling, lover.
Then there’s the dive buddy.
I think that non-divers (muggles) sometimes just don’t realise how much a dive buddy is trusted with your life. Essentially, it is someone that you defy humanity with! Through sign language and body language during training, it is someone you have got to know purely in an underwater sense. You know what frightens them, and vise versa. You know how fast they breathe air underwater, and their favourite marine creature. Underwater, you wouldn’t want anybody else.
Solo trips. Some might say interesting. And although you may get paired up with a kindred spirit, you usually get paired up with one of three buddies.
1. The rookie/cowboy.
2. The mamas boy.
Or 3. The knowall.
The rookie/cowboy swims here, swims there, doesn’t wait for you and doesn’t look at you once. I could be stuck in a giant clam for God’s sake! But instead, he’s racing after a stingray. He also has the post-dive potential to be wearing white bonds trunks under his wetsuit.
Wet white bonds trunks = not forgiving (even though he thinks it’s impressive).
The mama’s boy chows down his air at the sign of a yawning fish and clutches your ankle the entire time. You wanna go up? But we just got down!
And the knowall just doesn’t care. He just goes through the motions with you. Like a bad date. Like ‘mehh.’ You point at something; he nods. You sign you’re cold; he nods. You sign shark; he nods (He says swap buddies; I nod).
So in an industry where body language is essential. I find comfort in the fact that my dive buddy just ‘gets’ me. That we can dive together only once or twice a year and just jump straight back into that easy diving, with no awkward - handshake/who’s gonna lead/you, no you/I’m scared of fish – conversation. Because he already knows my ‘I’m cold’ face, and the buckle that I sometimes can’t quite reach gearing up! I know that he hates dive reels with a passion (it’s a looong and tangled story), what the code word ‘pizza’ means, and how important his mares hat is to him.
We only know our underwater selves.
(Pic – Buddies watch the sunset at Byron Bay, Aus)