Walking in the tracks of the surf rake this morning, the freshly-turned sand crumbles beneath my feet like brown sugar. Elwood has scavenged a chicken bone from the remnants of a late-night gathering–bits of peanut shell, watermelon rind, and an empty box of fireworks scattered across the sand. Discarded beer bottles glow like torches in the light of the rising sun, mirroring the reflections that flicker across the water in the ripple of waves. The disgust with which I view this ubiquitous trash lends a sense of irony to the delight I find in spotting the glint of frosted glass along the shoreline, relinquished from the steady churn of the lake. Sometimes the difference between trash and treasure is merely the passage of time. How often our tales of woe become our most winsome stories. Through their retelling, they are honed and polished like bits of sea glass, made small and palatable, their rough edges smoothed.
I hope this is the light in which I will come to view this transition from Chicago to Arizona, sea glass to red rock, cynical high school drop out to open-minded denizen of the world of higher education–colorful, shimmering, and imbued with the magic of hind-sight. Because right now I feel the sting of jagged glass, unweathered by the passing of time. It feels like performing surgery with a broken bottle–dissecting the tissues that bind me to this place with artless and imprecise strokes until all my tethers have been loosed and I’m ready for transplantation. I worry about how slowly this connective tissue regrows, how long I’ll spend adrift before I begin to feel some sense of belonging in a new place. More than that, I worry that the sinews joining heart and home can never truly be slackened enough to allow for this distance. I fear that I will live with an unbearable tautness in my chest, forever calling me home.
I try to remind myself that it’s better to dive into the unknown with grace and daring than languish in the comfortable monotony of the devil you know. Better the vast potential of open water than the stagnation of refuse-strewn shores. (Speaking metaphorically, of course–people need to stop throwing their shit in the lake.) With any luck, I will one day emerge from this rough and tumble sea of change honed and polished with my rough edges smoothed. Whether the waves will spit me out on distant sands or those of my local beach, only time will tell.