The last few years of my life haven’t been easy, but then again, nothing worthwhile ever is. Getting where I am today has taken patience, perseverance, thick skin, a little bit of luck, and a whole lot of endurance. But now, as Hurricane Harvey causes massive flooding across east Texas, it looks like the years I spent lying facedown in scuba gear in the middle of downtown Houston have finally paid off.
When I first donned my wet suit, flippers, and oxygen tank, and prostrated myself on the hot pavement of a busy Houston street back in 2011, I knew I wasn’t just taking some quick excursion. I was committing to something; I was in this thing for the long haul. Now that Houston has been devastated by truly cataclysmic flooding, lying on my belly in full scuba gear for years beforehand seems like the obvious choice, but up until this week, doubt occasionally crept in. As I swim freely through the street I lay on for years, however, I am glad I stuck to my guns.
I’ll be honest: Indefinitely sprawling motionless with a breathing apparatus on my back was no walk in the park. Days lying facedown in downtown Houston turned to months lying facedown in downtown Houston, but all I had to show for it was a bunch of bruises where pedestrians had tripped over me. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get to me now and then. Without those months and years keeping my head down and my spirits up, though, those first moments of the street filling with water and finally lifting me up off the scorching concrete wouldn’t have meant nearly as much to me as they ultimately did.
Of course, I caught more than my fair share of ridicule for wearing full scuba gear year-round in searing heat on a sidewalk you could fry an egg on, but anyone ahead of their time deals with that. People called me names like “that fucking scuba dipshit” and “brain-damaged Jacques Cousteau,” and I’ll admit that always stung a little. But I knew that one day, lying face down in a wet suit in the middle of a bustling city would eventually pay off. That said, if people are looking for new names to call me, I think “the sensible and well-prepared scuba genius” has a nice ring to it.
Sure, my oxygen tank will run out at some point, but in the meantime, I am feeling vindicated. This is not a time for gloating, however, and my heart goes out to all those who have been affected by the storm. Please know that I am saying prayers for this city into my oxygen regulator, and if anyone in my neck of the woods ever needs any assistance, I am always willing to lend a flipper.