Writer, artist, cook, fledging woodworker, and co-car enthusiast with husband Dean. On the surface, I appear respectable. Deep down, I am a rascal at heart.
I was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, a small town on the Gulf Coast. When I was 10 years old, my family took a trip to Mexico City to meet my mom’s family for the first time. Before that, I had never left the borders of Mississippi. My first memory of that trip was the ride from the airport to Aunt Elvira’s house through traffic like I had never seen before. From the back seat of our car, I braced for my imminent death by any number of darting cars as I watched young boys called moscas (“flies”) cling to the roofs and backs of moving buses. I might as well have been an astronaut landing on the moon for the first time. One thing was certain at that moment in a city of 18 million: I had caught the travel bug.
“If I knew everything, life would be lonely, as everyone else would want to explore the world, and I’d be content with a cat on my lap sitting in the dark.” Jarod Kintz-Emails from a Mad Man
That first trip began a voyage that continues to this day, beyond Mexico, and across oceans. I never tire of planting my feet on foreign soil. Sometimes, the languages are familiar to my ear as they weave in and out of some form of Latin or as alien and indistinguishable as a congregation speaking in tongues. It’s all part of the discovery of a new culture, new foods, an unexplored history that, ultimately explains so much to me about the people. Traveling and learning come hand in hand. Traveling makes you a better citizen of the world. For when you are traveling, you are not just exploring a land or a people, but exploring yourself.
So why “jumpinthedeepend?
When I was about 3 years old, I almost drowned while at Pensacola Beach. My father had walked me out into the water, eventually carrying me along as we went further out. Then, a strong undertow sucked my father in and quickly tired him out. A large wave smashed into us and we both went flying, my father losing his grip on me. Fortunately, I was tossed on the beach after tumbling over and over underwater, eyes wide open. (I can still envision this in my mind’s eye.) From that point on, I was terrified of water.
During visits to the recreational center in my town (the only public pool in town), I only felt safe in the kiddie pool. My friends quickly graduated to the big pool, but I stayed behind, miserable and mad at myself. I finally made the move to the big-kid pool, always staying close to the sides. Kids often tortured me by sneaking up from behind and dunking me underwater. Then, one day, as I was walking by the pool, my brother grabbed me and tossed me into the deep end, yelling out, “This will teach her to swim.” It had the opposite effect on me and I went down like a bucket of lead. My well-meaning brother had to jump in and save me.
Embarrassed and fearful of bullying, I learned how to float on my back, which gave me a sense of security. Still. I often found myself the last person to “swim” across Bluff Creek. I would inch my feet along the bottom, finding underwater paths that were raised enough that I could walk across, my neck stretched to the limit to keep my head above water. Sometimes, I went sailing with friends, never telling them I couldn’t swim. All the while, I felt like a coward. Why couldn’t I learn how to swim?
When I was around 18 or 19 years old, I taught myself to swim. To this day, my form is awkward and I’m not a particularly strong swimmer. However, if anyone tried to dunk me today, I would knock their block off.
Today? We have a pool. It is refreshing during the hot summer months. I swim around awkwardly, but one thing for certain, I can float the length of the Gulf Stream.