What a horrific realization.
I am like those sad, sad people on TV. The ones who mean well but simply cannot let go of certain cherished items. They collect the special objects that they crave, endlessly organizing them, moving them, putting them in little boxes and saving them up.
Eventually, they fill their homes with those precious items. Piles of baby shoes, mountains of picture frames, continents of old newspapers. Before you know it, they are sleeping on a stack of pink towels, eating breakfast surrounded by a tower of unused Christmas ornaments. The family gets worried, an earnest psychologist is called in to help, and the TV cameras begin to roll.
I realized this morning that I am scarily close to having my moment of televised shame. Oh, the horror!
It started innocently enough, but I’m sure that every hoarder says the same thing. See, Paul and I just got back from a three day boat trip with friends on Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands. It was, in a word, paradise. I’m pretty sure that when I die, my personal version of Heaven will be almost an exact replica of this trip. (OK, the boat might be bigger, and have a more private toilet, but other than that…..not much difference!) We were with people we love. The weather was hot, humid and breezy. The boat rocked gently day and night, and the calm, cool water of the ocean felt like silk on our skin. We ate delicious foods, drank cold, crisp drinks and we laughed more than we have in the past six months.
Part of the pleasure, for me, is that on deserted ocean beaches, surrounded by the sounds and smells of the Atlantic, I become someone new. Hesitant, out of shape, anxious me breathes in the hot salty air and begins to melt away. Each molecule of briny summer wind that enters my lungs goes to work and does it’s magic. Within a moment, my back straightens, my muscles tighten, my eyes open wide to take in the silvery glimmers that race across the water. I turn into my dream self. I jump off the bow of the boat. All by myself, I swim to shore and walk the rocky beach. I don a swim mask and fins, and I fly around the rocks and swaying underwater forests as gracefully as a sea sprite.
Every time I visit a place as idyllic and as restful as this one, I gather little mementoes. I want so much to hold onto the feeling of “ocean” me! I want to enfold the moments and absorb them deep into my cells to keep them always with me. So I find little treasures as I walk my favorite beaches, and I bring those treasures home.
And therein lies the problem.
This morning I woke up and decided to sort through the treasures from this trip. I pulled out the one small ziploc bag that held my little gifts, and poured them onto the coffee table. Beautiful!
I picked up my best piece of beach glass- cobalt blue!- and held it in my hand. Just touching it filled me with the memory of the hot sun pressing on my shoulders as Wendy and I strolled along the tide line. Carefully, I gathered each little piece of polished glass and put them in a small pile. Next I turned to the beautiful pieces of wampum, admiring their smoothness and the pearly sheen of purple on each surface. I sighed with pleasure. I decided that before I added this stash to the rest of my beach treasures, I would organize and clean them all. Every little treat that I have found and saved on beach walks going back for 40 years.
I started to gather them all and wash them off.
All of them.
All three glass dishes, both big woven baskets, the two big shells in the bathroom, the little dish of colorful stones. I decided to organize them a bit. Stones here, scallop shells there. The clams, the oysters, the whelks and the mussels. Limpets and sand dollars and pieces of wampum. By the time I was finished, my entire dining room table was covered with my precious memories. It took me three hours, but I found each one a special place to be displayed, and carefully put them out. Want to see?
A few more vacations like this one, and I’ll need an intervention for sure!
But aren’t they beautiful?
Post Script: One hour after writing this post, I found TWO more containers of beach treasure! You should see my wampum now.