Trailer Park Nirvana image created by Stefany Kleeschulte.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Beach Cookies

After beachcombing this beach for five years I've gotten picky about the shells I gather. Pretty much the shells I like are the ones you see here - the potato chip or jingle shells, those little fan-like shells in the bottom left corner, and sand dollars. All of which are hard to come by which is one of the reasons I like them.

A couple years ago I was walking Popeye beach (down by the estuary) and a friend found one of those small keyhole sand dollars. I was so jealous. For days after I combed that beach looking for one with no luck. Then a few weeks ago I took some women to a beach which is good for beachglass and as soon as the words left my mouth - "we should go to sand dollar beach the next time you're here" - one of the women looked down and there was a keyhole sand dollar. Damn. At sand dollar beach we've found keyhole sand dollars but they're usually big. To me there's something special about these small ones, the size of a chocolate chip cookie. And a cookie is what the people here call them.

Yesterday I walked through town, to the now empty barrio, crawled through the barbed wire fence and up a hill to the restaurant Los Naufragos which, I discovered, is part of the private land that's been fenced off. I slid down the dune, careful to slide under the newly constructed barbed-wire fence that now runs along the beach.

On the beach I took a deep breath and told myself that my vision is too narrow. I need to relax, view the beach as a whole, and maybe one of those sand dollars would show up. I also gave myself a mighty good lecture about how I needed to get my life, my mood, my emotions back on track. I needed to get back the feeling I had when I first came to Kino. I'd been riding the wave of a glorious high-on-life feeling from the Home for the Bewildered. I remember those first days in Kino, sitting outside the trailer reading, listening to the water, endless hours walking on the beach. A summer hot but not as hot as the ones to follow. Then how my joy took a nose dive as snowbirds began arriving with their conservative and racist attitudes. How I spent years feeling as though I didn't fit in but I didn't know where to go. Tried Bisbee. It didn't work. Came back to Kino.

As interesting, quirky and wonderful as Kino can be, I began slipping into a familiarity breeds contempt state.  I felt stuck and stuck was not a feeling I ever wanted to feel again. But I was very, very broke and therefore stuck in Kino for a real reason. Yeah, I could visualize the life I wanted all I wanted but the bottom line is at the very least I needed money for gas and food to go off in search of that life and I didn't have that.

After my lecture I continued walking the beach, gathering jingle shells. On the return walk home I walked in the water, just at the edge of the surf. I was hot and sweaty and the cool water felt great on my bare feet, the sand smooth, washed clear of shells. And then there it was. Right in front of me, all alone, that keyhole sand dollar glistening white against the dark sand. I stood there and looked around. Then before I stooped to pick it up I looked out at the sea and said "thank you!" It was one of the creepiest things that's ever happened to me.

When I reached the muelle I ran into Tio, the old man who walks the beach gathering beer cans. I'd seen him in town when I started my walk and now here he was at the end. He had a treasure too: A canvas-covered mattress pad, kind of like the ones you see on bench seats or big lounge chairs. He had it folded in half, tied with a string, and carried it on his back. We stopped to admire each other's treasures. He pretended to take a bite of my sand dollar cookie. Tio was very excited about this new bed of his. I was excited to have this reminder that things come to us when we need them. And how small my needs are in comparison to others.

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