Our Atlantis didn't have marble columns or streets paved in gold. Like most places, our streets were macadam, potholed and sand-strewn. And marble, that was for the folks on the North Shore, who lived in A-frames and had private beaches for their backyards. Our Atlantis had acres of cranberry bogs and pristine pine barrens, where aquifers ran clear and deep. It had pizza parlors on every Main Street and ramshackle clam shacks that no outsider would ever think of entering but that served steaming platters of the best mussels and Italian ices with flat wooden spoons glued to their lids.
Our Atlantis wasn't a place though, so much as an age, a time when we walked barefoot and caught fireflies in cupped hands, when we snuck onto the beach after dark with blankets and beer, and swam in the choppy, moonlit waters. We. Kiri, Madge and me. Always.
And when I think of Atlantis now, I return to that last night before Kiri left for college on the mainland, when we crossed through the dark tunnel that led beneath the dunes from parking lot to beach, the slap of our flip-flops echoing from the damp, graffiti-covered concrete.
Madge and Kiri were my fellow Atlanteans, though they wore cutoffs instead of silken robes, and flip-flops instead of leather sandals. We'd been one another's constant companions since grade school, and the thought that it ended that night seemed just that to us, an ending that left us all melancholy and vaguely disoriented.