Seashells in Winter

A bag of seashells rattles inside of an unpacked, plastic moving box. I’ve been hauling plastic boxes around all day in the new apartment. Heavy with books and memorabilia that I’ve brought home from my mother’s house  in Miami, the boxes are the last of my belongings. Some are combinations of journals and frames, whilst others carry photo books and Harry Potter wands.

Some of them have bags filled with seashells that were gathered by a loved one what seems like a lifetime ago.

As I unpack and organize the last of my things, I place the last box on top of an empty one, and reveal under its tight lid a plastic bag from Navarro filled with seashells. I pull on the knot to release their nacared bodies from their filmy prison, and it is as if I am pulling at my own heartstrings as I do.

I let them drop gently onto the carpeted floor of the guest bedroom, the tips of my fingers treading the still sandy ridges of the shells.

“Maybe this is not such a good idea?”  I think as the back of my throat begins to tighten.

Then, I hold a white, spiraled one, up to my ear and I am transported back to that afternoon in the shores of Sanibel Island. The sun is setting behind the palm trees and fields of tall beach grass, the sky is orange with streams of smooth clouds, the water is dark brown and muddy, but it gifts on the shore a rainbow of seashells.

I relive the wonder of that moment. That place where once I escaped to when there were more questions than answers. When I was at one of my lowest points. Before all of life changed. Before there was a Fall and a Winter, there was an island in Florida where everything was possible and seashells could build castles in the sand.

Now, it is Winter in North Carolina and the sun has begun to set. Rays peek through the window, casting shadows on the carpeted floor of the guest bedroom. I hold up two identical shells, the sun reflects on them, and their orange hues become a kaleidoscope shining on the wall.

I smile as I remember, reflected on those shells, immense moments of joy and warmth.  I can hear the laughter, I can feel the salty air on my face sitting on a porch swing and on a hammock at midnight.

I remember and I hope that when Spring arrives it brings the sun, the flowers, and an ocean filled with shells. That it brings forgiveness for what needs it. That it brings clean slates ready to start anew. That it brings showers of love for those who are ready for it. But most of all, that it brings together all that has fallen apart.


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