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Three Years Under the Sea

a fable about depression, recovery and love


I spent three years living in the bottom of the sea, staring out my window at slanted stripes of black and blue. This decision prompted scorn and confusion in my urban community. Such a thing just isn’t done, you know. People need people. But people were my problem. My skin burned raw and sore from a scorched earth love and my soul cried out for wet, cool solitude. Leave me be. Let me be.

I made the transition with ease. You would too. We forget what we know about living in the dark. Knees bent, legs folded, I floated in currents of doldrums and kelp. My lungs learned to pull enough air from the water to keep me alive, but not enough to power me through community 5ks or strategic goal setting sessions with cherished mentors.

I declined all offers to meet with friends for coffee and managed only to visit my mother now and then, ensconced in deep blue bubble. My consulting clients complained about the frailty of our communication line and dropped off one by one. But it was okay, you see, as I didn’t have the same financial needs, living on the bottom of the sea.

Far from mountain home, I flowed on global streams a thousand leagues deep. I circled the earth once, twice, surfacing occasionally to blink from afar at beaches and warm glow homes, unmoved.

In Eastern Hemisphere, a smudge of land just north of the equator tempted me from watery abode. Even under water, I could feel the beats of its ancient heart, contained in familiar teardrop shape. Beached on yellow land, I breathed long, deep breathes. Oxygen flooded my brain. Weeks passed with my mouth hanging open, gulping air like a carp. Craving light and thin atmosphere, I climbed emerald hills, sat upon wide round rock and asked the burning sun to dry my damp limbs.

When I found my way into the towns, the people spoke a language I did not understand. Our exchanges, limited to gentle gestures and cups of tea, pleased my spirit. My head echoed with whale song and surf roar. Sentences did not suit me. It took a year of island living for the salt taste to leave my mouth, for the paleness of my face to redden and tan.

My mother called on VOIP connection, asked me when I would return to the mountains. I wasn’t sure, I said. The sea is vast between us. I feel so warm and dry. I don’t want to go under again.

Besides, I’d met a man on this island. One who radiates soft heat and speaks a language half his and half mine. We walk together down winding jungle paths, gorging on reluctant mangosteen and spiky rambutan. Sometimes, we climb rocky peaks above valley stripped in tea plantation green, stumbling upon sapphires and troops of hungry monkeys. The island feels suddenly small. Perhaps next, we’ll learn to fly. We’ll come home then. If, of course, we tire of clouds.


First published June 26, 2019.