With two weeks left before I take off across country, I’m amused to observe which of these possessions so weighing me down I am most reluctant to part with. Furniture was easy: friends and family took some, Craigslist brought me buyers for the rest. The hours spent sitting on the floor feeding early drafts of old poems into the shredder, though painful, were also rewarding, with little snips of thoughts and memories and conversations catching my attention and making me smile.
But this morning I’m paralyzed by something that should be so easy, in a coals-to-Newcastle sort of way: the box of seashells I accumulated during my original fifteen-year sojourn in Miami. I should offer them to my downstairs neighbor, who teaches grade school. I could give them to a crafty friend to become jewelry boxes. But I can’t, not yet.
I feel as though I can remember finding each one, on those early mornings at the wet edge of the sand as the tide went out. I remember the thrill of reaching down, turning the shell over in my hands to discover its nature, its flaws or its perfection. But much more than that, I can recall my feelings, my thoughts . . . and whichever person was floating on the surface of my mind at that moment.
I could keep some of the shells, pass the others along. But which? Do I keep the large, dramatic, undamaged ones, the ones I would pick if I were browsing in a seashell store?
Or do I take the small and strange ones, the misshapen ones, that remind me of a time in my life that was far from “perfect,” but was filled with love and possibility.
Or do I just trust that the ocean still gives up its treasures, and that one of the reasons for returning to Miami is to feel that city’s magic on my life again.