Family Adventure

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(HOST) Rebecca Coffey is a freelance writer with a special interest in mental health issues, who believes that sharing adventures may help make famlily ties stronger.

(COFFEY) After I read an article suggesting that people could revive relationships by engaging together in exhilarating sports, I could have asked my husband to go skiing. But my marriage is not the only time-worn relationship I’m in. I have nearly grown children. Sure, our first years together had their passion, good and bad. But then things evened out – considerably.

A week or so after I read the article, I needed to make plans for my 15-year-old son’s Spring break. Did I want to spend it pestering him to clean his room – just so he could claim it’s clean already? Or might we dispel our standoff and revive our relationship by, say, scuba diving?

Cut to: The Cayman Islands and a diving course that culminates in a descent to 120 feet.

Even I didn’t have "reviving our relationship" in mind as Ben and I began the final dive. I was wondering if my brain was going to explode, though at around 45 feet I remembered that "imploding" was the correct worry. But soon enough, I was swimming with Ben through a maze of coral as we descended to our record depth.

Emotion distorts memory. I remember seeing Ben shoot ahead, out of a cave, and hover over the 25,000 foot drop that is the renowned Cayman Trench. I remember holding my breath in fear. Ben has pointed out that it was the instructor who went first and that, if I had held my breath, I’d have died.

ANYWAY, we both agree that all the fish were behind us, grazing on the coral. Ahead and below was just blue. Without debris or life forms to define foreground from background, we couldn’t tell if the blue was an inch thick or if it extended to the center of the earth.

When I was little I wanted to be the first person on the moon. When I was 15 Neil Armstrong was. Now, at the very age at which that early dream died, my son has experienced weightlessness and a sense of limitless space, and he’s shared that space companionably with a range of aquatic animals, some of which we’d always thought would eat us. (What they actually do is swim lazily by, certain that we’re not part of any food chain they recognize.)

Did a Spring break of exhilarating sport give Ben and me a new beginning? On the way home he handled my luggage. I opened doors. We cheerfully survived a 2-hour wait at Immigration. And neither of us has mentioned the state of his room since our return. All right. Days in our house bounce by as imperfectly as they do anywhere and, no, we can’t afford to dive again soon. But I am sold as never before on the idea of families getting outside together when the going gets tough – or even just gets boring.

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