Monday, February 10, 2014

Memories Of Childhood And The Sea

The sea is calling me this morning.  The pounding surf, crashing against the shore, rhythmically pulling me back into a memory of sand and rolling waves and a horizon so broad it seemed like endless possibility and eternity in one beautiful sweep of view. 

On my desk, there is a small, brownish lettered olive shell.

It is still in fairly good condition, with its edges roughed up by the pounding sea and sand, with its main sides still shiny from the years of building it would have taken to make the shell, layer by layer, year after year, as its original inhabitant built a solid home around itself.  It is a small token from a long ago vacation, but it brings home that feeling of contentment and love, of walking hand in hand on the beach when The Peanut was small, and of the windy, sand-blowing, wave-crashing day that we found this shell.

It sits in front of me, unnoticed or covered in random papers and detritus on my desk most days, until it gets uncovered in a bout of cleaning frenzy.  My memory gets jolted anew each time, as though it were a piece of treasure, long-forgotten, that is a key to some long-forgotten room in my mind.

I pick it up, running my fingers across its smooth, glassy surface, catching a fingertip on a rough bit that had been eaten away by sand exposure, and I go back in time to the day we found it.  To the smell of the salt air, the crash of the waves after a night of storms out to sea, and the wind whipping sand and salt spray all around us on the empty beach.  We were the only people silly enough to be willing to go out that early morning in the pre-dawn misty rain and wind, and we were rewarded with this beautiful lettered olive shell as our prize.

Funny how something so small and worth so little can mean so much, isn't it?

It is the memories we make with each other that mean the most.  This shell is my reminder of just how much that is true, and it calls me to make more in the years to come.  Childhood is fleeting, and all too soon our darling child will hit her teen years and then head off to college and beyond, but this shell will always be my token of a precious little hand in mine and a long walk by the sea that we love so much.


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