“You Can Sleep When You’re Taking the Dirt Nap” –Chris Maxey  By Caciques Jackson Rafter and Louise Shiverick

Brandon poked me on my side, and I jerked up onto my side, ready to rush to get to morning circle. I glanced out the window to see the orange semi-circle peeking out of the horizon, melting in with the clouds. I looked around the room and noticed everyone was still sleeping, and remembered this wasn’t a normal morning. The faculty had put an extra Tuesday morning sleep-in on the schedule, a blessing, but my watch still showed 6:18, just like every morning. Why? Brandon had organized a morning free dive to the cage with Maxey, and I knew I couldn’t miss out. All night I had heard Maxey’s voice in my head: “you can sleep when you’re taking the dirt nap!” It would be so easy to go back to bed right now, I thought, now stepping outside, but despite my sleep deprived state, I got my dive equipment together ready to go. We loaded up the boats quickly after a briefing and headed out to the cage with the sun rising behind our backs.

As the Mary Alice glided over the glassy ocean I laid back and began to relax, and remembered the tips Ian (a freediving expert) had told me the other day. Breathe with your mouth wide open to fill your stomach with air, and then suck in through your teeth to fill your lungs. I took slow, massive breaths, each one bringing me closer to sleep.

When we arrived I jumped into the water, completely relaxed, and looked down at the massive structure known as the cage. Huge Midnight parrotfish, Atlantic spadefish, and Black grouper circled around, looking for any spare food they could grab. Past the metal bar I could barely make out a Caribbean reef shark silhouette grazing the ocean floor 90 feet down. After 10 deep breaths I turned vertical and began my descent. Kick, kick, equalize, kick, kick, equalize. I got in my rhythm and closed my eyes, not thinking about air, water, or gravity. Twenty feet, 30 feet, 40 feet I kept descending– kick, kick equalize – I kept my rhythm. I opened my eyes and saw the huge bar looming next to me, and to the right a 4-foot Spanish parrotfish looking me in the eye. Above me, the sun rays pierced through the water, and I felt miles away from the surface. I took one more glance at the bottom and began my ascent. My lungs began to expand as I moved quickly toward the surface. Finally I breached and gasped for air, gave the ok sign, and knew getting up today was the right decision.

-Jackson

Today in our community meeting we started off with a sentence about parents weekend. We went around the circle and each said one word to add on. It was cool to see how the sentence evolved based on how people were feeling. Our excitement and anticipation grew as we split up into our advisor groups and talked about our families’ arrivals. I felt like I was in a tree house sitting in the boathouse with the BCDs hanging above my head. After learning more about how the coming days will play out and talking with our advisors about our concerns, we felt more prepared. The community is bursting with enthusiasm to see our families on Thursday night.

-Louise