I’ve been spending a lot of time at the beach lately. My sister and her husband often take their two boys somewhere there is sand and surf and sea treasures and I go with them, eager for the something between peace and ecstatic sense of well being it gives me.
Usually William and his dad will wander off in search of crab shells, sea urchins, sand dollars, mermaid’s purses and whatever surprises the tide’s brought in. Sometimes it’s a sculpin head, a dead seal and once, an iphone.
My sister and i usually plant ourselves in the sand while her mesmerized toddler Felix sifts it through his fingers,or looks for bugs and spiders among the rocks. Neither of the boys seems that interested in the water, which is sad and strange in some ways, but maybe safer too, at this point in the season of the year and of their lives.
I would be content to sit and stare at the horizon myself if it weren’t for memories of jumping waves as a child of William’s age on a summer beach. I can’t think of any other pleasure as freeing or complete as that, on the long journey to the my middle age. It reminds me that the body and the inside stuff can exist as friends and even collaborate on the magic that makes human existence worth every grain of sand in the bathing suit of this short life. I hope my nephews, with their heads stuck in the book of the seashore, will learn to dip their feet in the salt-rimmed ocean and come to love the wilderness of their own blood pounding in their chest, the sheer nothingness of the spirit on the foam.