A couple days ago, I told Shannon that I don't plan to swim this year. I didn't swim last year, either, but I'm not ruling out swimming in future years. I had a rather traumatic snorkeling experience in 2009, and it just served to cement my dislike for ocean swimming. I haven't swum since.
You see, I grew up in Southern California, maybe half an hour from the beach, and I went to the beach regularly, basically from birth until I graduated high school. (In college, I got too busy for fun.) So I've always loved the ocean -- the sight, the sound, the smell, the feel of the breezes -- but I never *swam* in the ocean. I'm a poor swimmer -- I can save myself, but that's about it -- so the water is not a comfortable environment for me ... let alone the water with waves and rocks. So I love the ocean ... from a distance. I spent my summers lying on a towel on the sand, listening to the radio, reading a book, chatting with friends, or just people-watching. I would wade in, maybe even to chest height if the waves weren't too big, and occasionally I'd get surprised by a wave going over my head, but that was the extent of my intimate interaction with the ocean.
Shannon is a strong swimmer. He was on swim teams as a kid, won trophies, etc., and he and his dad *love* swimming in the ocean. (Since moving to Hawai'i, Shannon's dad swims in the ocean almost every day.) I think they have difficulty understanding my discomfort in the water, though Shannon's dad is entirely cool about it. Shannon seems to think I have to swim in order to appreciate the ocean, but it's not really my thing.
I really liked seeing all the tropical fish when Shannon and I snorkeled a few years ago, but to be honest I enjoy tropical fish more at an aquarium, where I can view them while I'm fully clothed, breathing comfortably, and able to talk to my human companions with no tube in my mouth. I liked the fish, but I didn't like being in the ocean.
So Shannon and I talked about the issue at length a few days ago, and I agreed that in the future I would be willing to take swim lessons to get more comfortable in the water, and give snorkeling another try, but this year I'll be sticking to dry land. And the only reason I will snorkel again will be because it would please Shannon to have my company. It won't be for my own enjoyment. I might grow to enjoy it -- I'm not saying that's impossible, by any means -- but that won't be why I do it initially.
What I'm really looking forward to is spending time with Gary and Mary (Shannon's dad and step-mom). I *totally* consider them family -- I like them a lot more than most of my biological family -- and love getting to see them. Since they moved to Hawai'i a couple years ago, that hasn't been very often. But it does give us an excuse to visit Kaua'i once a year. :)