May 8, 2017

Our story begins more than fifteen years ago (was it that long?) back during our time in Kentucky. Our good friend Jana, who decorated her entire house in a kind of Florida beachfront kind of motif, had collected a bunch of shells and seashore kind of stuff to create a lovely sea-sculpture for us. I had a picture of it somewhere but can’t find it for the life of me. But it was lovely, becoming a mainstay decoration in my bathroom in Louisville, then our tiny bathroom for the year plus we lived in that tiny apartment in Massachusetts, and finally, in my bathroom here in Arizona.

Like just about everything here in Arizona, the dry atmosphere and the dust takes its toll. A few years ago, while gently moving it so I could clean the countertop, a couple of shells came off. I tucked them into a larger shell, but the esthetics took a bit of a hit. Then, last year, the foundation started to come loose. And there was no point trying to dust it and return it to its original glory: the whole piece was just too fragile. Finally, the foundation came off and I knew the time had come, like it comes to all of us. It was time to return it to its source.

So, accompanying me back to Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago was a plastic grocery bag filled with the pieces of the sea sculpture, now nothing but a dusty main piece and a collection of small shells.

One of the mainstays of any visit back home is to visit the seashore, and this time was no exception, albeit one with a purpose. The Sunday I headed up to the beach in Rye, New Hampshire the day had started gray and cool; by the time I hit the beach it was windy and cold. Spring comes late to the New England seacoast, and the day felt more like late March or early April than one day before the first of May. The various parking areas along the coast road where you could pull over and sit on the rocks and contemplate life, death, or whatever a vast expanse of ocean prompts one to dream of, typically filled with sightseers, were empty.

I pulled over and took off my t-shirt, pulled on a heavy sweatshirt for warmth. The sea, more often than not calm whenever I’m up there, was restless and choppy, and moody and gray as the low clouds scudding from east to west above. It would have been nice to do the deed on a bright sunny day, the sea sparkling, and the Isle of Shoals so clear in the distance that you felt you could almost touch them, but such was not to be the case. It could have been a depressing moment, I suppose, but it wasn’t: I felt good about returning Jana’s sculpture from whence it originally came. I thought about Jana and would have called her except there is zero – and I do mean zero signal at Rye Beach. I know she would have approved what I was doing. Given her view of the universe it would all make sense in a symmetrical way.

I thought about times past. I thought about our time in Kentucky – me, Tracey, Jana, and Jana’s parents. I thought the cats and all the rabbits we’d had, all of them long gone. I thought about how in just a few weeks’ time would come my first Mothers Day without a mom to send a card to and call. But then I saw how timeless the ocean is, how endless the waves are, and how nothing lasts forever. It didn’t seem to make sense to spend more than a few minutes dwelling on things one can’t change – besides, it was getting damned nippy out there. The only thing left to do was to get on with it and set the sea sculpture free.

I opened the bag just as the wind came up and a bunch of shells went flying unceremoniously onto the beach and the surrounding rocks. Didn’t even see where they all went. All that was left in the bag was the broken main piece of the sculpture itself. I took it out and gave it a simple Tom Brady fling, watched it plop into a pool of water beside one of the distant rocks…

THWAP! It wasn’t in the water more than two seconds when a seagull came swooping in over my head, plucked the sculpture out of the water before it had completely sunk, then flew it to a nearby rock where it began to systematically decapitate it, undoubtedly searching for tasty edibles.

“You son of a bitching bastard!”, I yelled at the gull, laughing at the absurdity of the whole moment. I knew Jana would have gotten a good laugh out of it as well. I stayed for another minute or two watching the gull destroy it, continued to swear at it. The gull didn’t care, and frankly, neither did I. In just a few hours the tide would come in, the rock would be immersed, and the sculpture lost to the sea. The fact that a seagull helped with the proceedings added just the right amount of joy and absurdity to the whole thing. Sorta like a reminder never to take things too seriously.

A few drops of cold rain began to fall, the waves sloshed against the rocks, the wind whipped through beach rose vines. It was time to go – a warm Mexican restaurant and a cold margarita awaited. I would drink a toast to Jana, the sea sculpture, and a memorable way to end an era. I would never look at that spot on my bathroom counter the same way again. And it would make me smile.

I took off the heavy sweatshirt, put back on my summer t-shirt, and drove away.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:50 | Comments (2)
  1. Mom is still alive. And I totally approve of returning the shells to their home and good for the gull. He may be decorating his home by the beach.

    Comment by Jana — May 10, 2017 @ 4:00 pm

  2. Sorry, Jana didn’t know that, I do hope she’s doing as well as can be expected for her age and situation. Give her an extra hug for me the next time you see her for Mother’s Day, as I wish I could do the same with mine. As for the gull, I knew you’d appreciate the absurdity of the moment!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — May 11, 2017 @ 12:00 am

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