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He’s also been a professor at multiple Ivy League universities, earned a Ph D from Stanford, received 20 other honorary degrees, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by George W. In that moment, I realized I was talking to the family of a man who’s way “out of my league”.

He had accomplished everything I strive for as a writer and educator.

Our first dive was cancelled the next afternoon due to high winds and waves, but not before Simone nearly had a meltdown trying on the rental wetsuit, deeply unhappy as she struggled to get the wrinkled, skin-tight neoprene up over her legs and hips.

Of course, having me whisper, “Take a deep breath, please calm down,” didn’t make things any better.

Simone didn’t have strong feelings about the adventure either way, which was maddening and, well, expected.

So there we were, driving down the Overseas Highway with the windows open, bellies full of fresh mango and a guanabana milkshake from the Robert is Here fruit stand, a Spanish radio station’s latin pop cranked to be heard above the wind mussing our hair, Simone translating song titles and snippets of lyrics, both of us smiling and laughing.

The next morning, after a Waffle House breakfast, we found Simone a lycra bodysuit (recommendation from a close friend of mine), and that afternoon she was able to slip the rented wetsuit right on without fuss or stress.

This is all very much on my mind, because Simone applied “early action” to her two favorite colleges and they’re both highly selective.

And then she had to peel the whole thing off when the boat captain suggested we postpone until the next day.

But I noted the relief in her sigh as she yanked her left foot out of the leg of the suit.

I know too well how it ebbs when it’s not nourished.

So I bought our plane tickets, reserved a hotel, made arrangements with a dive shop, and then Hurricane Irma made her landing, and we waited for weeks to know if our trip could still happen.

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