The Sand in My Shoes

Aug 24 2013

I’m sitting in the sun on the beach on the northern Puget Sound, listening to the relentless cries of seagulls. We’ve been here four days and they bicker day and night, night and day, never resting. I hear them at 3pm while I watch the water, wondering whether I remembered to sunscreen the littles today, and I hear them at 4am while Greg and the littles snore around me. Bicker, bicker, bicker all the time. Or maybe they’re celebrating and not fighting at all; my kids will tell you I get those confused sometimes.

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The kids are arguing on the shore about who’s going to be the fetcher and who’s going to be the thrower. They’re on all fours, carrying pieces of driftwood in their teeth, racing toward the water and away, bickering, bickering, bickering. Or celebrating; what do I know?

A harbor seal keeps poking his head out of the water, stretching higher and higher to see, like a toddler at the window sill standing on his tiptoes. I think he wants to be a fetcher but he doesn’t know how to ask.

The ocean breeze is blowing off the water in gusts that smell like clean and sometimes like rot. We sit here together and breathe them both deeply, the fresh air and the wafting stench. It feels like all of life, this moment.

There’s sand in my shoes, the same sand that used to bother me, make me sigh and wonder how I’d get it all out later, tense about the work, the work and all the work to clean up this insidious mess. Now I enjoy the grit between my toes, smoothing out the rough edges even while it wears away the shine of my polish and defines the wrinkles in my toes with dirt and grime. I don’t know when the sand changed for me from irritant to pleasure, but here we are.

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