Digital Papercuts [Chapter 3]

Aromas. Scents. Smells. Bouquets of pungent perfumes. A whiff of familiar fragrance takes me back. Nostalgia. Looking behind to the past as analog memories fills my head. Childhood. Fast forward to skip the mundane. Yesterday. Reliving my youth's history while watching new experiences begin through our childrens' eyes.

Seasalt off ocean's unrelenting tide. Moon's grip bulges and surges; waves pound sand and rock. The asphalt of the PCH scars and follows curved coastline. Beach days. Palm trees speckle horizon line. Fallen feathers litter. Crowded beaches. We mark our spot using beach towels and Igloos. Flipping off flip flops and running into the surf only to get tossed to and fro by massive—to me—surf. The force pushes me downward and into sandy floor. Salt stings eyes as I look upward for release. Out of the water exhausted and panting for breath. Playing on and around the pier pilings while falling into the water.

Head back to my sun-dried beach towel. Collapsing upon the colorful cotton fabric as sand squishes out from underneath. Saltwater clinging to my skin, dripping off my drenched hair and sliding into my open mouth. Wet sand glued to my feet. Fingers stained orange from crunchy Cheetos. Eyelids gradually close as the pounding ocean crashing down lulled me into a slight slumber. Awakened only moments later. Up on my feet and running from the hot and dry to hard-packed sand, jumping over the white foam, and diving into the cresting waves; my happy place welcoming me back.

Tide pools. Exploration. Walking down the path of worn trail—dirt mixed with sand—and wooden stairs, next to Ice Plants, we finally got to the shore. High tide has come and gone. Low tide waits as we search. Starting at the furthest pool before the tide comes in, we skip from pool to pool, hunting for living treasures to examine. Crabs. Sand Dollars. Starfish. Snails. Sea Cucumbers. Mussels. Barnacles. Fish. Octopus. Vibrant colors attracted me. Bored looking in one pool and headed to the next. Nothing but slime in this one; seaweed fills others. True life touching tanks. Plunging hands into the chilly salt water: gently touching and feeling. The Anemones would wrap their jelly-like tentacles around my finger. Pulling away, the sticky tentacles would hold on for as long as possible, then finally relent to letting go. Another finger on a different Anemone. Pool to pool. Eyes full of wonderment. Playing with Urchins. Their spikes working in unison to hold my finger and pull it close.

As the tide slowly rises, chasing us from the deeper pools to the shallows, the foamy tide brought fresh salt water and food for the hungry animals we just agitated for the past few hours. My jacket sleeves soaked with ocean water; the knees of my jeans wet from kneeling on the hard rocks. Another tidal current comes splashing in, pushing us away from the rocks.

High tide. Once again onto ocean-soaked sand while collecting spent and usually broken seashells. The more intact shells were hard to come by, but finding them was exhilarating. Broken clam shells littered the coast line. Mussels torn in two. Rinsing the intact shells in the blue-green brine, turning the shell over and inspecting it only to find half of the top missing. Thrown back into the sand underfoot and continuing my search for another. Intact shells were kept and stowed away into plastic bags.

The sun met the horizon too quickly on those days.

Oregon coast line: vacation with our family. Up and down the 101. Cannon Beach. Tide pools surround Haystack Rock. Salty atmosphere. Our children explore tide pools as I once did. I get caught up in the moment; exploration with our kids. Teaching. Touching. Listening. A part of their experiences. Tiny sand dollars lay in wait to be discovered. Crabs hide. Gazing at starfish. Sand between our toes. Low tide soon becomes high. Creatures hidden by foam and sea. We gradually make our way from pools to shore. Feet into soft sand. Footprints erased by living water. Wet sand becomes dry. Beach town bustles. Make our way to a coffee shop and discuss our days' activities. Holding on to our childrens' youth like gripping wet sand in my hand. Acquiring daily digital papercuts.

Another sun meets the horizon again, all too quickly.

Seagulls cry overhead. Windows rolled down. Winds roll through. Sea level. The smell of the cold Pacific stays in our collective nose.

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