Archive for January, 2015

The Things I Found While I Was Looking For Answers

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

The first day I was at the beach, I walked down to the water’s edge in the late afternoon. I watched the waves roll in, and I looked in both directions. My dog and family ran circles around me. My thoughts ran circles around me.

Sunday: I sat in the sun while they played in the sand, while I wrestled with it all. I went down to the water. I wore sunglasses. They couldn’t conceal tears slipping down my cheeks.

Monday: I promised myself I would walk. I set out in the gray mist. I reached the water and looked both ways down an empty beach. In both directions, I was alone. I chose the longer walk. I could not see the end of the beach; it just ended in a dark, thick fog. It was the end of the world and just dropped off into nothingness. I didn’t pretend I might run. I walked with the wind at my back. The mist turned to drizzle. I didn’t reach the end. I turned back into the wind, and walked back the way I came, watching drops of rain form on the brim of my hat, and then drop away into the sand like tears. I walked up the boardwalk to the house, cold and tired in the pouring rain.

Tuesday: The sun came out. I would run to the end of the beach. My music died before I got there. I heard the ocean and slowed to a walk. I walked and walked and thought. I came to the end. I watched birds wheeling as one over the beach. I hopped a rivulet cutting the spit in two. I stood at the edge. Waves converged at a corner of the beach from two directions, crossing one another with no rhyme or reason, no repetition, no ebb and flow. I started picking things up as I walked. I put them in my pockets. A shell, a common one, but with perfectly clean-cut corners. A dark, smooth rock. A small bone, maybe part of a spine. A feather. A worn piece of wood. A crab shell. Some shell so shiny it did not seem like an earthly substance. Polished glass. I put everything I found in my pockets. When my pockets were full, I carried the rest in my hands.

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New Year’s Day: I awakened to cold dog nose in my face. We slipped out of a silent, sleeping house and over the boardwalk, making our way to the beach. I let him loose. He ran to the water, and then back to me. He sat next to me standing on the beach, leaning against my leg, watching the birds. The sun was hanging over the water to my left. I closed sleep-filled eyes, felt the sun on my face, hand on his head. I thought, “This is a New Year.” And, “What does that even mean?” I felt lighter.

Last Day: I ran the opposite direction. I ran until I was finished. As I walked back, I picked things up. I studied them. I had no pockets that day to hold it all. I picked one or two things up at a time. If I came across something shiny or spiky or strange, I’d stop to compare the two. I would pick one thing up, turn it over, decide if I wanted it. Hold it in my hand.

Was it rough? Was it smooth? How much did it weigh? How much space would it take up?

I would decide to put one down for the other. And then put that down for something else. I left things behind that could not be carried. I went home with less than the day before. I carried home one magic wand and a broken butterfly.

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The things that I found while I was looking for answers.