Ebb and Flow

Rain comes with the dusk, cooling the sand and our flushed faces. One face is my own, and the other belongs to a boy I have known for years, but am meeting for the first time. I might have seen him in passing hundreds of times, but never took the time to look him over from head to toe. I barely knew him until this moment. When the moment had past, I doubted that I knew him any better. The mist of the oncoming storm mixes with the spray of the ocean. The drops freckle our sandalwood skin and wet our yellow hair. Upon this meeting we are alike in many ways. Breath from our mouths is released into the still air of the night. Fireworks glimmer in the distance, able to be seen but too far to be heard. Their light reflects on the water and in our eyes. “Your eyes are blue,” he says.

Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have analyzed this in the same way. I would have moved past this pivotal point without blinking. But now I crane my neck and try to look behind me. I try to stare into my past. I try to catch a glimpse of whatever I can. I try to catch a glimpse of worry in his gaze. This strains the muscles behind my eyes. My head is dizzy, so I look ahead. His words ring in my head like a catchy hook from a song. I rest my head in the damp sand.

It is hard to tell whether the goose bumps that sprout on my skin are caused by my nerves, or caused by the bitterness of the wind. Warmth is found in our palms which touch for the first time. Our hands are seamlessly interwoven into a blanket that protects me from the increasing chill. I am content where I am in this unmarked territory although I am accompanied by a stranger.

The time passed too quickly, or perhaps too slowly--- at the time, I could not tell which. The hour passes like the longest minute. Our young hearts made our chests rise and fall, echoing the motion of the waves. I learn the name of this boy’s brothers and the color of his eyes. He asks about my life, but I can’t seem to think of what I said. I knew I had much less to offer than he did in means of conversation. Conversation is the hardest thing to make. Sandcastles are much easier to craft, so I begin to pile up sand in a mound beside me using my free hand. Our chatter turns to silence. The rain turns into white noise. The fireworks fall out of the sky. Everything on the beach crashes with the waves. The moment is over and we go back to our separate lives, for at this point, our lives are still separate. We are unknowing of the effects of that hour.

During my life I focus on what is ahead of me. I reach for what is to come and I take advantage of what the future brings. I thought that no good would come from regressing to the past. The events that already happened were of little value to me and I rarely thought of them. I worked on creating new moments instead of dwelling on past ones.

Through the span of this new moment, I wondered if any of it mattered. I questioned whether I would remember that exact hour in years to come. I couldn’t be sure if I would even recall the stories we swapped and the whispers we shared. It was all over in a flash of lightning and we went back to reality, but it turns out that I remembered it all vividly. The sensation that crept down my spine left me wondering. The turntable words. The pineapple breath. It all piled up, like the sand at my side. That eternal moment was a key point in two lives. Those lives affected were mine and that of the boy. The moment became an ebbing wave which flowed over into our lives, flooding them from then on.

My heart argues with my head about whether I should go back to that most important moment. If I had the chance to watch myself from above as I sat on the cool sand, would I choose to watch? My heart, in an instant, would go back and soak up the moment and all it had to offer. My head, however, would put the moment to rest. The conflict rings uneasiness, but reassures the moment as critical.

Moments pass and are gone forever. I can never revisit anything in the past. It is impossible to turn, put life in reverse and go back to a different time. All I can hold onto are reminiscences of events. A moment is a shell on the water’s edge. The fragile object is washed ashore by a wave and visible for only seconds. The next rolling wave crashes. It takes the shell to sea and it never returns for again.

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