Mike Saved My Life (repost)
Occasionally on the pod we reference that time I almost drowned. I blogged about it shortly after it happened. The entry was from July of 2013. I had lived in Sweden for about five months. I was still getting to know people that I know very well now. Check out the entire story below:
One of the things that's made the transition here easier is the fact that I have been plugged in to my own circle of friends. I think that's important for my sanity. I mean, Sandra's cool and all; but I think it's healthier for our relationship if I can hang out with my own friends. I was very honored when I was invited to one of my new friends' wedding recently. And if that wasn't enough, I was even invited to the bachelorette party. I had never been to a bachelorette party before, so I didn't know what to expect. The invite and follow-up information was all in Swedish. I was able to follow along. There was something about a boat and a sauna and everybody was to bring snacks. Simple enough.
So the day came around and I was ready to party. It just so happened to be the most beautiful day of the year so far. It was hot out with a gentle breeze. Not a cloud in the sky. I would guess it was about 85 degrees. Like a Jill Scott song (minus the food references). I got there just before the bachelorette and nearly ruined the surprise. Way to go me. We had a nice picnic in the park. Great start to the day. Once the picnic was over, we all packed up and headed over to the water. The boat was headed in to pick us up. We were going to have our own party boat. I heard some people mention how fun it was going to be to swim. Swim? I didn't know we were going to swim! I thought we were going to get in a sauna on a boat. Then my friend explained that this was a party boat that goes out deep into the lake and stops so all the partygoers can swim around for a bit. Then you board and continue with the party until you get back on shore. I ask around to see if I'm the only idiot without swimming trunks. You guessed it. I was. It was alright. I would just jump in with my underwear. We're all friends anyway.
We board the boat and it's awesome. Two levels. Sauna and bathroom (with no potpourri). Coolers and sitting area downstairs. Tables, audio equipment and flat screen TV on the top deck. There was also a diving platform. Wow. This was going to be fun. We snacked and drank as the boat motored towards deep waters. There were Swedes scattered about the mountains sunbathing in the distance. The patches of sand on the shore were littered with people as well. This was the perfect day and the perfect place to enjoy it. Nothing could bring this day down. We got some drinks in us and hung out in the sauna. It was fun. My boy kept pouring water on the rocks and making it hot as hell in there. That water was going to feel good.
Then the boat came to a stop and we were told that we could swim now. That sauna had everyone ready and they all ran out and jumped into the water. I dropped down to my underwear and wondered, "Why me?!" Oh well. It's a beautiful day. Just go with it. I got my camera and got some good pictures of my friends jumping from the platform up top. It was cool to see. I personally wasn't going to jump just yet. I didn't even know if I was going to get into the water. After the pictures were taken I decided it was time. The sun and the sauna had left me no choice. Plus I was the only one left on the boat now besides the captain and co-captain. I went to the bottom and climbed down into the water with my back to my friends (you know why). It was cold in the water! But nice. I swam for a bit in my underwear and then headed back in with a couple others to drink some more. Now I had done it. My underwear were officially my swimming trunks.
I saw a couple people take some more dives off of the platform. Man I wanted to do it. My friend told me it was great. I said I would after my beer. Then the boat started up again. I figured I missed my chance. We put some old school music on and did our best impressions of the artists that performed the songs. It was a great time. Then we got word that we could swim again. This time I was going to dive from the top. YOLO right? People started diving. I got in line. I told myself I wouldn't do anything crazy like try a backflip and find a way to die out here. After a bit of egging me on by my friend who was ready with the camera I took the leap. It felt like I was in the air forever. I grabbed my knees like I was going to cannonball, but then I decided to go feet first. I extended my legs just as I entered the water. It was a great feeling going into that water. I opened my eyes to the light green tint of the water as I swam back to the surface. I looked up and gave a thumbs up to my friends.
Side note: I've never swam in deep open water before. All of my boat trips have been for fishing and all of the swimming I've ever done has been in pools and not far from the shore at the beach. I never swam in a lake before because I made the mistake of believing my mother for about 20 years too long (that's for another entry). My mother taught us how to swim when we had a house with a pool. We learned to dog paddle, freestyle and backstroke from her. I consider myself a pretty good swimmer.
I was the only person on this side of the boat. I swam back to the boat and grabbed the side of it. There was a jet ski roped to the boat, so I went under the cord. I figured I'd go along the back of the boat and climb up the ladder that I came down earlier. I had done my swim and now I was going back to drink some more. As I moved along the side, a girl that I had just met that day started yelling at me. Apparently I was getting close to the propellers. She asked me was I stupid and did I want to get myself killed. My initial thought was, "Who she talking to like that?" But she had a valid point. The answer to her first question might have been yes, but the answer to her second question was definitely no. So I decided to swim away from the propellers. I was thinking I would be sucked into the propellers like a jet engine and just ruin everyone's afternoon. I was actually starting to get a little scared. This is NOT my style. So then I started to try and just B-line it for the ladder. I'm a pretty strong guy. Shouldn't take me long. I didn't realize I was in the stream of the propellers. I was going NOWHERE. Now I was in full on panic mode. I felt tired. My rhythm was off.
I don't know exactly what my face looked like at the time, but in my mind I was saying, "OH FUCK I'M GONE DIE! HEP ME! HEP ME PLEE! DON'T LET ME DIE IN MY DAMN DRAWS!" I tried to assess the situation before I completely drowned. I have my friend in front of me who is probably exactly half my size but I am pretty close with the guy now and he probably doesn't want me to die. To my 3 o'clock is my friend that's 6'8" and likely weighs more than me. I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to witness me drown either. He's been having a good time thus far. So what do I do? I reach out to the guy who is exactly half my size. At this moment I was still at that point where I was trying to be a little bit cool. You know, die with swag. Apparently he didn't see the struggle in my eyes. He tilted his head like a dog that hears a high-pitched sound. I later found out he thought I was joking around (me and these jokes!). So now I have my boy wondering why I look like this and I decided to go for broke after the 6'8" Brit. I lunged after him. I tried to say, "Mike, would you please assist me. My swagger is completely broken and I don't want to die in my Banana Republic boxer briefs." What came out was, "Hep me, man! (swallow water) Hep!"
I really didn't give Mike a choice in the matter. I grabbed him. I was completely out of it. I consider my mother a good teacher, but for some reason I just couldn't think of any basic swimming motions or human movements whatsoever. I've never had a panic attack before, but I think I was having one at this time. Mike went under the water. Just at that moment I was able to take a complete breath. It was awesome. But was I killing Mike? Where was he? I thought about when Mom told me that if you ever see someone drowning, let them go under and get them when they stop struggling so you both don't die. First thought: Oh no, I'm killing US! Second thought: Oh no, Mike is going to leave me until I halfway die like my mother suggests. Before I could torture myself with anymore thinking, Mike came back up. I didn't want him to do my mom's technique so I decided to show him some concern. Dying me asked, "Mike are you okay?" He looked at me like the other guy did a minute ago and said, "Yeah." Then I kept saying, "I panicked, man. I panicked." Then he said in his British accent what I thought was something like, "Throttle leg." So I started kicking my feet like I was on a paddle boat while I was upright and he was holding my torso and swimming me to safety. Mike was really nice at the time but later he said he wondered what the fuck I was doing. It turns out he said "frog legs". Thanks mom. I didn't learn shit about frog legs in the pool. He got me to the ladder and I climbed up onto the most comfortable boat deck ever.
Needless to say, I did not get back in the water. We talked about it a bit and laughed once everybody got back on board. I did drink more and wondered what could have been throughout the rest of the day's events. Man... Mike saved my life! What more could you ask for from someone in your new circle of friends? 'Til next time...