The Sand in My Shoes

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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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
10 comments
  1. I guess that’s one of your best written posts! And I certainly do envy you for your holiday 🙂 Enjoy it!

  2. Ahhhhhh………….we’re all there with you.

  3. Beautiful. As always. I love your writing. While I realized you’re too big for it, I thought you may like to know I nominated you for a blog award anyway. Thanks for making me laugh and making me inspired 🙂 http://www.happyasjustamom.com/im-shinin/

  4. This is lovely. I especially like your admission of how bickering and celebrating can overlap and confuse. (And the seal. That’s just adorable.)

    I’m realizing that one of the good things my mom passed on to me is the way she enjoyed vacation. She never sat still at home, but she would hang out at the beach all day, and not worry in the slightest about the sand in my ears. She would be the first in and last out at any pool or lake, instead of sitting on the side keeping her hair dry. A few days ago, I took the kids up to Trillium Lake. I realized I’d forgotten my suit, so I waded in in capris and a t-shirt, figuring the pants would dry and I could change my undies and shirt afterwards. The inelegance of my swimwear was nothing compared to missing out on my one chance this summer to float on my back in a mountain lake, looking at the blue sky, the green trees, and the mountain.

  5. I love it – it is funny how our perspective changes over time. I am sure you are not far from me on your little get-away – we are off to the beach today too – our little escape on the Washington Coast – I love the sand in my toes – now I just wear flip flops all the time to avoid any irritation – it is the best! Love our Pacific Northwest Summer this year – no place better this side of heaven!

  6. I felt the same way about the beach when I went recently. Shells they collected that seemed a nuisance before were gladly tucked away with the open bags of chips and leftover sandwiches. I even plopped down next to a bunch of kids (one of mine included) and sifted wet sand through my fingers, looking for little sand bugs. Not once did I worry about the sand in my bathing suit. The burn after, that is a different story. 🙂

  7. I love how you write! So expressive. I love your descriptions too. The seal, the kids, the birds. I can feel the rat racing world slip away as you are sitting there. Your pictures are amazing as well!

  8. Amazing words, you’ve really captured the essence of what holidays mean to me at the moment, there’s so much pressure with having to get everything ready, nerves about traveling, being on alert until you’ve done your health and safety checks on your new surroundings, you build up to a huge point of disconnection and then at some magical point you realise that you’ve not thought about anything much for at least 10 minutes and you feel yourself again. Sand and salt, sea and sky, it’s a mystical combination for me too.

  9. Love this post. I have moments like this where I can just enjoy all the good and the bad and just be. I just haven’t mastered how to do it on command. It’s hard not to get bogged down and stuck in the minutiae that I’m always trying to keep up with, clean up or fix.

  10. What lovely words! So glad you’re having a wonderful time. Amazing sunset.

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