I'd like to be under the sea... - Denese Rodgers

I've never liked going underneath water. I love water itself, and I adore the beach, pools and lakes.

I could live on a secluded island somewhere; I've just never liked being

underwater, in particular.

Some of it has to do with claustrophobia. Mine is not bad,

normally. I just don't like being somewhere that I can't get out of -- like underwater, or in the dentist's chair.

When I was a kid, I had a terrible time with swimmers' ear. Maybe that's where

some of the aversion kicked in, sort of like Pavlov's Dog. Every time I was in the wate, I wound up having to have ear drops and wads of cotton in my ears.

When I first met my husband back in Athens, Ga., he truly believed that I could not be thrown into a pool, because I would do anything it took not to have to go underwater.

Adrenaline is a wonderful thing.

So, needless to say, the first time I had the chance to go snorkeling, I was just a tad apprehensive. We were in the Bahamas, back in 2002, and we decided to go for it. The tour guide was a smart man, who gave me a flotation type of wet suit, so that I really could not drown.

There was a good chance, however, that I'd have a heart attack, because my chest

was absolutely pounding. But I was not going to sink. It was s-o-o-o-o worth it.

The view down there was beyond superlatives. The colors were mesmerizing, and the marine life was entrancing.

I even remember that the guide told me to keep my fingers still, because my fingernail polish would look like bait to the sharks. I think he was pulling my leg on that one.

I think the misunderstandings that I came away with from that experience was that I would drown without the wet suit, and that you have to snorkel where the water is 25-50 feet deep. In fact, it only has to be deep enough to keep you from scraping on the bottom!

This time, we went in water that was only a few feet deep (greatly increasing my comfort level) and without the wet suits. As I remembered from '02, the water's colors and the fish are simply awe-inspiring.

I totally lost track of time. It was my middle-aged back and neck that

reminded me that I'm not in my 20s any more. I got a wonderful couple of bangs and scrapes from the waves and the underwater rock formations. But I was having a ball.

I can't imagine getting jaded by this amazing view. The owner of this little place where we're staying goes out every day after lunch, taking guests on a snorkeling tour. He has so much fun that he does this for free.

I wonder if he needs a sidekick?

And after we got back, showered all the kelp and sand out, my husband said, "Do

you realize that is the longest I've ever seen you underwater?"

"Yep," I replied. "I'm planning to reincarnate as the world's shortest, most modest mermaid."

Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-services, networking, community organization in Henry County.