It was a strange, surreal year. Dad had taken a leave of absence from being a missionary in South America, and we’d moved to a small County in Virginia. None of us were really clicking into that radical shift in geography well. As a pastor, dad was struggling with the nuances of politics in an area where religion was more civic activity than faith. Mom was working at the county health department, and we were attending small, semi-rural public schools where the teachers were convinced that, because our english wasn’t perfect even though we were North American, we must all be, well, special. That’s the price many bi-lingual, bi-cultural children pay when returning into the beaurocratic bog of the American education system – third-culture influences and a lack of understanding of how to play the public education game are misinterpreted as ‘intellectual’ issues. In a school category system where the smart kids attended classes designated for ‘diamonds’, I was assigned to the ‘prism’ homeroom.
There were only a few safe places for the son of missionaries who’d come back to a place that he was told was his ‘real’ home. Now that I look back, I realize how foreign every last little thing felt. Television was a safe place, and although I remember very litttle about what I saw those couple of years, I clearly remember a movie that left me awestruck and feeling melancholy for many weeks. It was called ‘Bermuda Depths’, and it played on ABC one Thursday night.
This enigmatic love affair that involves a giant turtle seems an unlikely favorite of many 7 to 14 year olds, but I find myself one child among many in my obsession with this ‘Movie of the Week’ story. There are blogs, Facebook pages, even Wiki pages dedicated to this movie. ‘The Bermuda Depths’ has a cult following amongst the strangest of groups – adults who saw this movie when they were kids.
Some say it’s the melancholy story line that created this mass obsession, whereas others believe it was the turtle itself coupled with the Vivaldi soundtrack. I believe it was all of these that touched me. I was alone in my own world, surrounded by people and places that I knew should feel familiar, but didn’t. It was an alien place this country, and I looked into this movie and felt a connection with all of the protagonists, including a solitary turtle with children’s etchings permanently marked on its shell who traveled the vast depths of the mysterious Bermuda Triangle. Or maybe I just liked turtles.
Throughout my life, the power of story expressed in books, movies and music has shaped my own tale. The Bermuda Depths is a small but significant fabric of the story I continue to craft.
2013 Update. ‘The Bermuda Depths’ is now out on DVD! Here’s a link to it’s location on Amazon.