I have far fewer photos in albums than the 26,942 that live in my phone. Most of my digital ones begin in 2007, which makes sense – that’s when the first iPhone was released.
Before then, we were stuck dropping off a roll of film and waiting to pick up the envelope of memories.
Most were bad or blurry at best, and only the finest photos ended up getting cut and pasted with witty remarks into albums.
I suppose that having to cull photos into piles of
- Keep-but-not-album-worthy, and
helped keep photo volume down.
I’d been working at New Global Telecom for a couple of years. I had a Mac and a PC side-by-side on my desk, because back then, file formats were still different and I needed both, although it’s hard now to remember exactly why.
I used to upload a photo to each machine, do the exact same thing to it in Photoshop, and then hit the return key to see which machine would be faster. Apple always won.
Anyway, it was a great job. We had weekly (bi-weekly maybe?) masseuses come in and you could sign up for a 10-minute chair massage.
People sometimes brought their dogs to work, and there was a bowl of candy for the taking at the receptionist’s desk.
Fridays often meant beer from a local brewery. Like I said, a great job.
Until it wasn’t.
First, the masseuses disappeared. Then, beer Fridays.
Finally, the candy bowl on the receptionist’s desk had dust in the bottom until somebody finally stuck it in a cabinet in the kitchen; the reminder of no more free candy too painful for them.
One month, I asked the CEO whether I should be worried. Layoffs were rumored, and I’d recently bought my first house.
“Well, I’m not going to lie. Layoffs will happen,” he said. “But we’ll always find a place for you. I promise,” he said.
Two weeks later when he was laying me off along with the rest of the marketing department, he asked whether I wanted to buy my stock options.
“Maybe they’ll be worth something,” he said. “A nest egg?”
I’d probably have purchased them, except my brother had been through a similar deal, and had lost all his money/stock options.
Also, my dad said he didn’t think it’d be wise.
Thank goodness, because New Global Telecom declared bankruptcy something like 11 weeks later.
Anyway, because I was jobless, and young enough to not think about how hard it is to get and keep money, when my friend Sara asked whether I wanted to go to Turks and Caicos for a vacation (for two weeks!), I figured “Sure! What else am I going to do during my severance time?”
It was the trip of a lifetime.
It was this photo of me, diving.
Ah, diving. Diving in Turks and Caicos. How to describe the feeling? At first, it’s a little bit panic, as your brain is saying “um, no, people aren’t meant to breathe underwater.” But then, as you realize you can breathe underwater, you start to take things in.
The look of the sun shining above.
The shadow of the boat, and the rope that’ll bring you back up with its markers of where you need to stop on ascent.
Fish that aren’t afraid. Other fish you’re afraid of.
All, so beautiful. All, so quiet.
Taking in the wonder of the quiet. The beauty. The peace. There’s nothing like it.
Panic again for a moment, check your air, and realize you’ve been under for less than five minutes. Explore, with your diving buddy.
This is diving everywhere, but in Turks and Caicos, you reach the floor of the ocean at around 40 feet. You’re careful to not touch anything.
To not leave a mark. In front of you is the wall.
All of the shallow water beauty is inches beneath your hands as you hover, ascending and descending a little bit with each breath.
Realizing that a breath in makes you float an inch or two. A breath out does the same in reverse. It’s magic.
In front of you though. The wall. A 6,000 or 7,000 foot drop. The end of the world.
The beginning of the world.
You hold your breath for a few seconds, listening for whales. You don’t hear anything but you understand how small and gigantic you are.
How every life is connected and meaningful.
You’re at the edge of the world. You could take off your tank, and sink to the bottom of the planet. To places where fish don’t have eyes and man has never been.
You don’t though, because you want to live.
You hold your breath again, but only for a few seconds because decompression disease or whatever it’s called.
You don’t hear a whale. You look at your depth gauge. 90 feet.
Oops. You weren’t supposed to go more than 80. You kick your flippers, just a little. Ascend.
You kick them up a little more, check your tank, and realize it’s time.
That you can do anything.
You thank the earth for having places that man still knows nothing about.
May never know anything about.
You hope man never knows some things about some things, like the bottom of the ocean.
You ascend a little more. Hold your breath again for a few seconds.
Hear something, and are sure that it was a whale calling to a friend somewhere on that deep deep wall. You wonder how far whale sounds travel.
You reach the mark on the rope where you’re supposed to wait to get the nitrogen out of your blood. You wait. You wish you had another tank.
You could stay down here forever.
Except that you can’t, and somehow, that makes it all that much better.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Each week, Kenya of Sporadically Yours and I give you a prompt and a theme. This week’s theme is simply to share a photo and the story behind it.