It’s ironic how I’m terrified of the one thing that makes up my entire body. Hilarious, isn’t it? It was just 4 days ago, that school was winding down and I was about to start my three-week long winter break. It was always cold in Philadelphia during this time of the year, especially around the Fishtown area. I flipped my shit when I first found out that this year, the School District of Philadelphia was experimenting with a three-week long winter break. It’s literally almost one full month of off from school. I needed this so badly. I thought I was going to relax, wake up around 11:00 am every day, and binge-watch corny Netflix shows. Not to mention, my short film that I have to finish for this upcoming youth film festival that I was participating in. It’s about me and my experiences with aquaphobia. It may sound weird, but aquaphobia is a fear of WATER. Oh and how could I forget Christmas! All my plans were thrown out of the window during the 2nd day of winter break when my mom said to me: “Jaxon, we’re going to the Bahamas for vacation!”
I almost threw my laptop out the window when I heard that. I ran so hard downstairs that you could have put me in a laundry basket and just slid me down the stairs. I really thought she was joking at first, until I saw the plane tickets sitting on the kitchen counter. I thought to myself, ‘Wait a second… aren’t the Bahamas fucking ISLANDS?”. And just like that, I’m here, on a boat in the middle of Paradise Cove, the only divide between me and what it appears to be a vast, clear and blue vacuum, waiting for someone to be sucked in and never escape. Y’know, I’d rather be inside my air-conditioned villa right now, than experiencing what it’s like to be waterboarded for the next 2 hours or so. I tried to argue my way out of it moments before boarding, but my mom said that she PAID for my OWN ticket, and that she is not going to waste her time arguing with me, which is I find completely ridiculous. I am too phased out right now for my brain to work currently, as I didn’t even realize I was the only one left on the boat. Everyone else is already in the water. Great.
I peer over the side of the boat, trying to not vomit, and all I see a deep, blue abyss waiting to claim its next victim. I don’t know if it was my anxiety or if it was just really hot, but the sweat is starting to come down my face now. My right eye slowly twitches as the baking hot sun’s beams reflects off the water, and I heard a faint tapping near the floor of the boat. My legs. It’s not that I don’t know how to swim or not, because I DO. It’s just that I am not so keen on being in this deep section of water with no way of touching the ground. My family has gotten therapy for me, but that’s it. They didn’t take me into consideration when they planned this trip or activity. My dad said it’ll be fine, and my mom says not to worry too much. But they don’t know the FULL extent of it. Most of the times, I always wish that I had a normal life. I wouldn’t even be needing to explain my story right now if this had never happened. Why can’t my family just understand that it’s hard living a fear that is normally not feared? I need to control myself, and yet I dare, I put my feet in the water. As soon as my feet touch, the slightest ripple occurs, and I see white. My mind races back to 10 years ago, everything monotone, dull and faint. A flashback. I see my past self, in the distance, making his way to the deep end, and then it happens. I faint and I’m submerged for about 2 minutes now, bubbles appearing near the surface. The lifeguard on duty realizes what happens and she starts pulling me to the surface, doing CPR on me until I finally awake. It was a close call, but looking back on it now, it would have been very likely that I would be here to tell my tale today. Since then, I have not been able to muster myself any courage to enter deep bodies of water. Anxiety overwhelms my body, and I instantly start to feel dizzy. And that’s just how its been for me, for 365 days, every year, for the past 10 years of my life.
Everything goes black, and I am back in present-day time, still on the rocking boat on the calm Atlantic seas. All my life, I’ve been scared of this one thing that almost 99 percent of all people shouldn’t even be scared of. My mind is telling me no no no, but the water is actually resonating with warmth, and it does not feel too terrible. The warm water is somewhat satisfying against my feet, and I decide to do something that not even I myself wouldn’t expect me to do: I head into the water. The moment my body is covered in water, I start to get anxious, but after a while, I start to see that I didn’t faint or nothing like that, and that I actually survived. I’ve been missing this feeling for 10 years now, and now I realize this maybe this isn’t so bad after all. The colorful angelfish, sea turtles, damselfish, parrotfish, squirrelfish and snappers float by around me, and I couldn’t help but be amazed. Our appointment is up, and I return back to the resort as a changed man, with a big grin on my face as the boat is rushing against the deep, blue paradise, that was once an abyss. I do a huge cannonball into the resort pool as soon as I get changed, and boy oh boy, that was so satisfying to do. I’ve realized now that a world of opportunity has just opened up for me, and now I can do much much more than what I can do before. Prepare to meet your demise aquaphobia, because Jaxon is your slayer.