We did it. We accomplished the impossible. The mythical island of Atlantis stretched before us, now a reality. Vibrant and teeming with life.
The island is more alive than I could have imagined. When first recruited to join a small team of archeologists on this expedition, I envisioned we’d spend months diving down into deep water caves that dotted sea floor maps I had been instructed to commit to memory. I imagined that on one of those days we would at last reach a sweet ecstasy of uncovering what we set out to. Finding Atlantis. Exploring all of the barnacle encrusted ruins of ancient sandstone, classifying, dating and determining important characteristics of a lost civilization. I imagined I would be living the life of an experienced, yet recently divorced archaeologist. Married to a life of the past.
The unknown path that laid before us felt like promise. A lot more promise than I had known a year ago.
It was mid April. I had spent the last few months in a drunken stupor, on my mothers couch, recently divorced. I was recently unemployed and my marriage had fallen apart. I resolved myself to live the life of a drunkard, punishment for all the failure and disappointment I had caused. I failed at trying to be anything before, what was the point. The life I once imagined slipped from my hands and had fallen away at a cliff I wasn’t willing to jump off to keep. It was on one of those afternoons, recently awakened from a haze of the days before escapades. A call to join a team of specialists being put together by some rich prick with a lunatic notion of finding Atlantis. What else would I do? I had burned every bridge over the last few months and the offer felt like a life raft out.
I hung up the phone. Confused, and also feeling like shit as the night’s magical elixir had worn off. The thoughts I had been trying to drown out rushed onto my face replacing the apathetic stare that followed those hazy nights. The unraveling of my life had not been due to one moment, but a collection of small instances over the years. Years of heinous words catapulted toward the ones I love and adore most, years of denying Tanqueray my sole companion, years of devotion to filling the hunger in my bones for more as I traveled the world excavating and uncovering truths long since past. It was much easier to digest the devil in the details of my work than it was to digest the details of a crumbling personal life. I allowed the alcohol and work to consume me. If he stayed, I would have pointed that same black hole in his direction. He knew it. He saw its hold and could no longer evade its path. The only way out of its path was out of mine. I was all I had left, which is all I ever truly had. Loving people and having them in my life had never been enough to save me from myself. Something always beckoned at me. Feeling an eternal famine, I traded it all in. That was the only reason I ever agreed to this expedition. That and I had nothing left to lose anyway.
Yet, here I am, aboard the Sedna, with a small group of comrades, also rebellious, rejected and rough in spirit. Unable to exist in the world we just departed. We were plucked from the surface of the sea, at the mouth of a seaside cave we’d planned on exploring the next day.
The air had suddenly chilled and electrified, warning of a storm to pass. As Captain Mariana commanded Sedna’s anchoring, the expression on her face changed. Her face began to swirl before me as if she were being vacuumed through the smallest tunnel imaginable. In horror, I looked down at my own hands, they also swirled in on themselves. I began to feel a sudden lurch in every cell of my body. Every cell felt as though it wanted to be set free in every direction. No longer wanting to cooperate. Then, I heard a pop. A quick flash of darkness flitted across my eyes and a deep breath sprang forth from my lips. I forced my eyes open to the sight of my comrades glimmering with seaspray, stunned. Shaking myself of the discomfort of whatever just happened, I made my way to the bow.
We did it. Atlantis would no longer be the stuff of fairytales or a place of old ruin. Before me, she is alive. Exuding every shade of green before us, waterfalls and rivers flowing in all directions, making their way around the wondrous kingdom that made up its center. Here, we would let go of painful pasts. No longer destined to be failures of an old world, but fated to thrive in a new world.