The Perfect Shell

What a day!  The sun was shining so I took a thirty-minute break to beach comb. I was looking for an intact sea biscuit or sand dollar.  I always loved scouting for shells in Galveston when I was a child. The water was pea green and kind of slimy but my siblings and I didn’t care. My father would drag all of us down to the beach from Houston for an afternoon of soggy french fries and family fun. We were forced into our garage the night before to blow up grainy, smelly, inflatables for our trip the next day.

Mom hated the beach and the sun so she always wore goggles on her face and a beach umbrella on her head. Dad would tar and feather us with that greasy, orange Bain De Soleil, and then we’d get whipped by 30 mph wind gusts afterwards. By the time all the ritual was over it would be about 3:00 in the afternoon. We’d have about two or three good hours to enjoy ourselves. And we did.

Today I exploited my study break and did some things I never do.  I walked outside barefooted and made my way to the water in stretched-out purple shorts, an old black sports bra, an open shirt, greasy hair, and no make-up. The real me was awful and delightfully liberated. It didn’t matter how I looked, I knew I was beautiful on the inside. I patted my stomach, which was fish belly white, and noted my legs were a little wider than usual. I started to ponder the idea of pulchritude. Not in a deep way though. I was distracted by the pain of broken shells under my feet and the hope of finding a treasure.  Maybe it’s easier to be trim and fit when you’re young because you’re always showing off your skin. When I was growing up in Texas everyone was either wearing a bathing suit, tennis gear, or those really ugly short shorts you saw in basketball games. And you had to hold your stomach in all day.

I liked not holding my stomach in today. And I let out my thoughts too. “Why can’t I live forever? It’s so beautiful outside!”  It’s a narcissistic notion. The idea that you should live forever and not deny the planet the pleasure of your company. But just think about how much you could accomplish if you had an infinitesimal amount of time! Think about what you could achieve! And you could spend more time with your family. (That might feel like an eternity.) I would love the opportunity to grow old with them. My daughter and I could do old lady things together, and my son might have better cognition so he could yell at me, and my husband could try to outwit and out-exercise me. (Ha! That’s hardly a competition.) And then I realized as I was sinking into the earth that I was being self-indulgent. It was time to find the perfect shell and return to my lair.  On the way back to the beach house I noticed something sticking up out of the ground near the wooden staircase. I carefully dug out a sand dollar from deep beneath the sand, and it was perfect.

4 thoughts on “The Perfect Shell

  1. Christopher October 9, 2015 / 11:39 am

    Love the way the title of this post juxtaposes with your candid self-description!


  2. Shelley October 9, 2015 / 10:17 pm

    I love your comment! Thank you!


  3. Gus Rossato October 10, 2015 / 1:25 pm

    Wonderful story and insight. Really enjoyed the read thank you for the insight.


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