It was a foggy morning that began so early with me knocking on the maintenance guy’s door because there was a fast and furious water leak down by the stairs. The fog came and went as did the foghorns, their distinct sound calling out from indistinct weather. It swelled my heart.
This evening’s beach walk brought more than I expected which should never surprise me, yet it does. I spent a long time out there for somebody who doesn’t like the cold, but the walking shoes and over sized hoodie with pockets did the job. I left the hood down for the most part because I wanted to feel the cold air on my neck, my ears, my cheeks, my nose. I wanted to”feel,” just as I wanted to hear and taste this ocean and see the cloud/fog being driven over me by the wind.
I hadn’t walked far when a gorgeous shell, intact, practically jumped up from the sand and bit my shin, a kind of whelk I’d not seen before, and I felt like… Who left this here? I looked around like Red in Shawshank Redemption, wondering if anybody saw me take it, and was it actually meant for me? I guessed it was, so I tucked it in my pocket and kept rubbing its smooth gut and bumpy exterior the whole way. It was a very low tide, and were it spring or summer I could have walked out to the breakwater and touched its rocks, slippery with growth, but I chose to keep my feet on the damp ridges of dune.
Black-headed ducks bobbed in the pool spotted with gulls, and I notice their voice sounds nothing like mallards. Cormorants worked so hard flying into the wind, and I asked them, “C’mon guys, what’re you doing?” but they kept on going their hard way. A red doberman played on the sand with her daddy. No dolphins today but that would’ve been asking too much because look at the whelk in my hand! I faced into the wind and smelled a burger on the grill which made me want one, and I wondered who’s out here grilling in this chilly, windy day? There were many small, white feathers in the sand, a portent of something wrong, and I found its body. My guess is a dog or a fox got this gull but somebody chased it away before it could feed. And here, seaweed I’d not seen before: I’m used to seeing long, purple hairs or the short, red stumpy ones that turn soft brown on a windowsill, but now there’s this brownish stuff swaying that looks like celluloid. Cool. Has it always been here and I just never noticed? Probably. While I walked I felt the pull of who I was missing, then heard that critics’ voice chiding me, but I put it back in place, decently, remembering that I get to decide who I miss and who I don’t, when, where, and why. It felt so good. And I cried.
The conclusion of my father’s estate sits in an envelope on my desk. I stood on the sandbar knowing this was sea level, tide sloping in, because it’s absolute. This is sea level, fullstop, not driving past a sign that says “you are 1000 feet above sea level” which means absolutely nothing to me. It doesn’t get any more absolute than sea level at your feet with a tide coming in, or a check that says this is all that’s left of your dad now, run along and try to make something of yourself. I cried and I missed him. I was glad the neighbors weren’t around. I cried and only the bobbing black-headed ducks might have noticed. I was glad they didn’t fly away when I walked past them, smoothing the whelk in my fingertips.
The wind makes the lamps in the courtyard sway tonight. I still have tears in my eyes as the new mother comes to share pictures of her little one on Santa’s lap for the first time. We talk about our babies cruising, nursing, coffee tables, mother-shaming. I think about my son and my family, my fate and fortune, and the ellipsis that we all are, feeling like it’s just gonna be all right…