58. Acting Against Type

Acting Against Type: After three consecutive terribly painful sunburns in Malaysia I re-learned a key lesson about myself: I’m not built for the sun. SPF 50 every 60 minutes makes absolutely no difference, especially this close to the equator. After snorkeling in only my bathing suit I was painfully reminded of my genetic inferiority by the lobster-esque burn covering my entire backside from my shoulders to butt cheeks to ankles including a large patch of tiny bubbly blisters in between my shoulder blades. So the next time I thought I’d compromise with the gods and I went in a t-shirt and Sloan’s board shorts. Of course I got an ugly burn on the space between my elbow and my t-shirt line and on the (ouch!) backs of my knees. So now when snorkeling is imminent or I want to at all enjoy the midday sun, I wear my long johns, which is a nice way of saying I wear my underwear around in public. Beautifully tanned white people and wonderfully melanin blessed brown people are all around me showing off their cute new bikinis and praying to the sun god, while I am in my underpants. Happily so though because it gives me the freedom to swim as long as I want and take as many open air boat rides through blue lagoons and mangroves as I want, without that creeping anxiety every 15 minutes that says “Umm excuse me, I know you are in heaven and everything but I think we might be melting.” But really, does it matter how I look this very moment around these perfect people or instead how much pain I will be in for the two weeks to come? On a trip that is very much about living in the moment, this was a level of attention to detail that I was pretty uncomfortable with at first. But after two weeks of healing and peeling butt cheeks, I decided I could live with it.

On this day I am wearing my “wet suit” to go scuba diving for the very first time. It’s an introductory lesson arranged by the resort the Santiago’s have graciously let us stay at with them. It’s not a full on 150 meters deep Cousteau kind of experience, thankfully, because I’m not the least bit ready for that kind of thing. Instead my jobs are only to breath and equalize, my instructor in charge of my depth and my direction. Still, I panicked. Not only am I not built for sun exposure, I’m also not meant to breathe underwater. It’s not natural and it doesn’t come naturally- but after a few tries, I get the hang of it and I love it. The high I got from pure oxygen didn’t hurt. I was suddenly as relaxed as a housewife with her daily Valium and glass of wine.

We didn’t go far from shore or too deep in the ocean but it was enough to convince me that I can do this kind of thing too. I can be one of those people that go deep sea diving. Whether I ever actually become one or not is irrelevant because really it’s the thought that counts, right?


  1. Dan says:

    this is totally inappropriate…but your boobs look awesome in your long johns! oh- and the rest of you looks great too! miss you! danyo

  2. amyispolish says:

    Thank you Danny. You can talk about my boobs any time you want.

    I’m just now noticing how freckly I’ve become. I think I’ve sprouted whole new colonies of them and in places that before had never seen sun. Yowza!

  3. Anonymous says:

    You’re cute as a button, Amy. And that picture comparison of Sloan/Brad a few pages on is priceless. You, JL?

    I wish I could come diving with you!