in the waves and the sand and the sea

Every time you set up camp under the lone palm tree you remember what it was like to be small here and then medium, large...  You forget what size you are, now. Especially when you're home.You are on the outside looking in on the inside looking out, glass in between two left hands, get me out of here/no let me stay!



Revi is on the beach with her shovel. She is alone and she is digging, squeezing at the sand and watching it fall into her lap, little hour glass. Turning the time as the tide pulls the sand out from under her, until finally, you have to pick her up and move her east toward the hill. 

Bo is on a towel with three teenaged girls. Their bikinis untied at the back --  no tan lines. You ask if it's okay for her to sit there and they say, "Oh my god, totally" except it's your voice that's coming out of their mouths. Your mouth is open and you're like, "she's so cute" and it's your voice and your triangle bikini top and your banana boat tanning oil with the broken cap. 

Never mind. It isn't yours. But you had the same one, didn't you? You totally did.

And there was that time when you and Mason drove to the end of the bluffs and made a promise to marry each other if you were still single at thirty. Five years ago this month was when he passed and you want to remember him so you go to the same place - the same parking spot and you drag your sandal against the white line and you miss him and all those days you spent tripping down the bluffs in his flip flops.

You miss this.

You miss him.

You are a ghost chaser in the mansion of your youth, your skin burning through the marine layer that hasn't cleared in fourteen years. And the skies are like walls peeling with polaroids. Even as your oldest daughter pulls your arm toward the sea.

Splash with me, Mommy. Let's run from the water together.

"I can't right now, baby. I have to watch your sisters."

This sand is your sand. This sand is my sand. This sand was made for you and me. 
But it feels like your sand. It feels like your entire story is here somewhere. This beach is your history. You started your period here. You bled through your bikini bottoms and kissed Robbie by the lifeguard tower. You bit his tongue and wrote a poem about it. You wore Nate's sweatshirt to the bonfire party where everyone got drunk on Zimas and you walked to Meredith's house - slept in her treehouse with the boys throwing rocks to come in, woke up with beach cruisers against your hands. 

You hate it here and you love it here and you want to go back in time and you want to never EVER return. You are the girl who likes the taste of blood even when it makes you sick. You revisit boxes full of memories for this reason. You listen to Fade Into You on a loop, parked outside your parents' driveway and text Kendra "remember when" and you FEEL it, man. You feel that shit like whoa.

You download Bad Religion and google "fimo beads" and write, at night, about what it meant to grow up on this beach. Because of the ghosts. Because of the blood and the kiss and the ghosts. 
You recently thought of the post you wrote, years ago, just after Fable was born - you were chasing and running from the same silhouettes back then, not that you ever really stopped. It's impossible to look away from all the accidents even when the roads have long been cleared and traffic is once again moving at full speed.

Take the long way to school. Listen to CDs. 

But maybe you were wrong about that. Everyone keeps saying "don't look back" but you disagree. If all those years spent in history classes taught you anything it's that in order to move forward we have to study what it took to get us here. We are the beach. We are the sand that was once rock. The sea that was once ice. The crabs that have always been crabs. We are the waves our children run from and toward with the same fearlessness.  They're just waves. 

And you're in the sand and you're sitting with the teenaged girls and your teen-monthed girls and this is where it all started. On towels with bikini strings untied. In waters so cold you couldn't feel your feet. You ran anyway. You ran full speed into the tide and held your breath, even when the waves took you down. This is where it all started. For me and him and him and them...  in the waves and the sand and the sea. Where towels can't help but be wet with sand. Where the tide is high and low and then high again.
We are the beaches upon which our children pull and drag and dig and swallow us whole. It's only natural to want to go back to where it all began. To try to remember what it felt like to kiss with tongue rings and bike uphill with no gears.

"Five minute warning," you tell them.

But ten minutes pass and you're still there.

You are there and they are here and everything looks the same from the beach. The sky and the sea and the lone palm tree with its hair in the wind. Unchanged.

Backwards and forwards, you go, like the pull of the tide, colliding with rocks before being sucked out to sea. That is the way of the shoreline. There is push and there is pull and there is nothing in between.  
You realize this as you watch your children hold hands and chase each other through the tide and how you can't tell whether they're running away or toward you. 

It doesn't matter, you think, as long as they're holding hands.