Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Thank the Earth: Photos, Past Lives, and Scuba Diving in Turks & Caicos

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

  • Album-worthy
  • Keep-but-not-album-worthy, and
  • Trash

helped keep photo volume down.

March, 2001

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.

Terrible photo but wow, does it bring memories of scuba diving in Turks & Caicos

Terrible photo but wow, does it bring memories of scuba diving in Turks & Caicos

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.

Descending.

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.

To tell.

To be.

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.

thank the earth

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 ascend.

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.

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  • Kenya G. Johnson - Omg girl – see masterpiece! I’m out of breath! I’d love that experience but I couldn’t do it as well as you, go as deep (physically or mfbtalky) to appreciate all its worth!January 25, 2018 – 10:16 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Again, masterpiece is cringy (is this a word that Christopher uses? Tucker says “cringy” all the time and now it’s in my brain) but thank you. It’s funny. I REALLY struggled. And then when I started writing about diving, I didn’t. I think I’m getting this. Next time, I maybe will skip the back-story…. anyway, I think I’m getting this. And OMG you should so go diving. I think Christopher is almost old enough. It’s super-safe, and wow-amazing life changing. I want to go after finding this photo. Which is the worst photo ever but wow, I want to go diving so I guess it worked. Thank you for the idea, co-host!January 25, 2018 – 11:25 pmReplyCancel

      • Kenya G. Johnson - You did fine! And considering the fact that you did it in the 11th hour makes it a masterpiece to me. I couldn’t have done it. And back to scuba diving – we all snorkled in Jamaica, it was awesome, and water you could also see clear to the bottom but I just don’t think I could go deep to where I could see the dark park. Nemo made me scared of the drop off.January 26, 2018 – 7:13 amReplyCancel

        • Kristi Campbell - LOL to Nemo making you scared of the drop off. Most dives I’ve been on don’t have big drop offs but in Turks & Caicos, the walls are amazing. Ooh I love seeing to the bottom of the water. I haven’t been to Jamaica but have heard the water’s amazing. And thanks!January 26, 2018 – 4:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Valerie Newman - Kristi. What a fantastic, life changing experience. Love the meme, “Thank the earth for places that man still knows nothing about”.January 26, 2018 – 8:01 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Val! I love that there are still places we have no idea about. There’s something magical about that.January 26, 2018 – 4:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Debi Lewis - WOW!

    I could picture all of that, Kristi. Beautifully written!!!

    I’m terrified of scuba diving; as an asthmatic, having to control and be conscious of my breathing is too scary for me. That said, I love snorkeling, and I find the sensations to be similar. You reminded me that we need to get a plan together for spring break — maybe somewhere I can snorkel. 🙂January 26, 2018 – 9:56 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Debi! I can imagine that scuba diving with asthma is a big no-no but love that you enjoy snorkeling! I’m always scared that the water will get in the breathing thing – silly I know. OOOH spring break snorkeling! Nice!January 26, 2018 – 4:11 pmReplyCancel

  • JT Walters - Alex and I have very similar experiences except in the sky. When we fly, it is a magical place where we almost believe our prayers can be heard. Flying through clouds blind requires a leap of faith. We are humbly small in aw of the world, aerodynamics, physics and yet certain we are not the first people to have flown.

    I have scuba dived before but here. Sharks are the main concern not whales. It kinda stops spear fishing. I never dove in the Turks and Caicos but parasailed and I loved that.

    But great sorrow and great joy must always come to an end. Nature believes in balance.

    I didn’t know FTSF had a Facebook page? You should include the link! Finding Nine Facebook page I’ve found.

    That you for the very visually descriptive FTSF article.

    Jobs are hard to come by!!January 26, 2018 – 11:29 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yes, flying can definitely be like that too especially in the small planes that you and Alex have taken. So cool.
      Yikes to diving with sharks. I suppose that’s always a danger. I’d freak out if I saw one! I went parasailing in Mexico once. It was fun but scary.
      Thank you for your kind words and yes, jobs are hard to come by!January 26, 2018 – 4:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - I think I told you once before how I “failed” the scuba diving class on our honeymoon. I just couldn’t do it — too freaked out. My husband passed and I told him to go without me, which he did. He came back saying how amazing it was and I cried the rest of the day.:( The way you describe it makes me want to try it again, but it also makes me scared. I’m just a wimp about some things. I did go zip lining in Costa Rica though, so there’s that!! And that job you once had — so cool! When I worked at the ASPCA, I was able to bring my dog to work (of course, bc it’s the ASPCA!), but there was no free candy or beer Fridays. I gotta find a job like that one!!January 26, 2018 – 6:23 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - See and I think I might pass on ziplining… I went once when I was a kid at camp but the older I get the more afraid of heights I am. I might do it, if Tucker really wanted to but I might pass. And I need to find a job like that old one too! I don’t think companies are that cool any longer. Well, maybe Google and Facebook… and Apple? But maybe not. Lawsuits and stuff with beer Fridays I bet.January 26, 2018 – 8:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I know that feeling so well. When I had graduated college and was between jobs, I went to Key West and spent a boatload of money without a care in the world. I miss that weightlessness.. literally and figuratively.January 29, 2018 – 12:59 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I miss that time too. Literally and figuratively. How much did you dive?January 31, 2018 – 12:44 amReplyCancel

  • Allison G smith - It upsets me that your boss didn’t give you a heads up. Two weeks????? I’ve never been scuba diving, probably never will. Too scared. But I do want to go to Turks and Caicos!January 29, 2018 – 5:34 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yeah, he was an uberjerk. Seriously. He was stoned all the time, and thought he was much more brilliant than he was. He used to yell at me from his office to help him with PowerPoint. The days 😀 D: D You so should go to Turks and Caicos!January 31, 2018 – 12:45 amReplyCancel

  • Echo - This is so beautiful. I could serious almost feel it. It is kind of how I felt the first time I saw the ocean. I was 27 and my husband drove me to Florida. When he pointed it out to me as it appeared in view tears welled in my eyes. It was magic.January 31, 2018 – 10:38 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I cried when I saw Lake Tahoe, Echo. Totally could not hold back tears. I love that you felt the same way when you saw the ocean. There’s something magic about it for sure.February 1, 2018 – 8:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - Your description of the dive is both awesome and terrifying! I think I’m still traumatized by those choose your own adventure books I read as a kid – there was one where you scuba dived, got the bends, and died. Ridiculous, I know. But for some reason I can’t forget that.

    I’m glad you don’t have the same silly fears! I also am in awe of places on earth we know nothing about. I felt that way a bit in Alaska.January 31, 2018 – 2:48 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’ve read that too! But wow, Dana, if you can get over that? You and your family would LOVE it. I mean wow, you’ve gone so many amazing places. Under the ocean? Oh please say you’ll consider it. Just thinking about it makes me want Tucker to be old enough to go (and I spend most of my time not wishing him older, but younger because I miss littler-him).February 1, 2018 – 8:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerry - I skipped this photo week, though I do post photos on my blog sometimes and may join in on one in a future month.

    I don’t think I’d get much out of this, like how I am going to the west coast in May and thought about taking a whale boat cruise because I love whales. The risk is mostly that maybe there will be some, off in the distance, and I won’t hear them, making it really just a boat ride and I don’t enjoy boat rides much at all for the hell of it.

    So, still your description of seeing down deep and imagining freeing from tank and things and drifting down. Wow. Of course, not really, but wow.

    I do like that there are places man hasn’t conquered yet, though if we don’t learn more, we don’t protect things enough. Or, perhaps, we’d just mess it all up if we knew more of what’s down there and easier ways to get to it. So I don’t know.

    So, as I often think of just going for more things, tonight, as I read I consider just going scuba diving anyway, even if it would be possibly confusing and disconcerting without being able to see. Still, maybe the experience of that state of being would be worth it all.February 2, 2018 – 11:26 pmReplyCancel

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