I love going to the beach.
The smell of the salt.
The breeze coming off the water.
The feel of the damp sand under my bare feet.
The secret worlds of the rock pools.
I lovve going to the beach, not for sunbathing or sand castles or ice cream.
I love going to the beach to go beach combing.
Ever since I was tiny, whenever I’ve been to the beach I’ve collected shells and stones and bits of bottle glass rubbed smooth by the waves. I would spend hours wandering up and down the shoreline looking for treasures.
The glass is my favourite; tiny gems in green and blue, sometimes brown or occasionally red or yellow.
Once I found a purple one.
They look dull and dusty on the dry sand, these jewels of the sea but are transformed in the water where they glitter and sparkle. Changed from something ordinary into something quite beautiful.
As a child I would pretend they were the jewels from a mermaid’s crown or part of a pirate’s treasure trove, lost at sea.
As an adult I collected them for themselves.
I would take home the ones that particularly captivated me; just a few. Some of them I would post to the Northern One when he was away at uni. I used to send him parcels with a letter, sweets, some copies of the New Scientist and some little presents.
He’s kept them all.
Not the sweets obviously, he ate those.
They never looked the same away from the sea, the green water and the sparkling sand but they reminded me of something beautiful.
A happy time.
Whenever I went to see my counsellor she had a wicker basket sat on the table beside her. One session I ask, in my desperation to talk about something, anything other than my own sadness, what was in the basket.
She lifts the lid to reveal pebbles and stones of all different sizes, colours and textures.
She empties the stones onto the table and asked me if I want to chose one.
To maybe try and chose one that represented what I felt.
I pick up the one that I’m drawn to.
It stands out.
Shiny and smooth.
No bigger than a piece of sea glass.
I’ve no idea what type of rock it is.
The last time I had a geography lesson seems an impossibly long time ago.
I twist and turn the stone between my fingers, rubbing it’s smooth surface.
I can’t put it down.
There’s something beguiling about it.
‘It’s really quite beautiful, isn’t it?” asks my counsellor.
I’d forgotten she was there.
So mesmerised by it’s texture, the feel of it in my fingers.
I hold the stone for the rest of the session, smoothing it over the pad of my thumb without really thinking about it. When the hour is up I look at the stone one last time and place it back into the basket.
Then I realise.
This stone, chosen to represent my feelings, that has held my attention so utterly.
I’ve let it go.