The sky is stretched wide like a taut wet sheet pegged to the horizon, and behind, night is yawning like an old dog, threatening darkness. The ocean lies lazily this evening. Flat and still and passive. Waves aren’t worth her time. She wears the sky easily like a mask in her surfaces.
It could be one of those silent evenings, but the foreshore bleeds sound. Click-clacking skateboards and ring-a-ling bike-bells. Scritch-scratchy mothers swearing at snot nosed kids. Fish and chip chit-chat and the tap-tap of sweating feet walking in rubber thongs. A sunburnt cacophony.
I lay flat like a starfish on the coarse sand. My skin is canvas pulled over bone, pressed with fragments of polished shell, coloured brown by the sun. I stretch my body long, curling my toes. I can see the ribs of me, my scaffolding. Belly hollowed out. Breasts flattened like a boys. I could melt. A human candle. Waxy flesh would slide from my frame and seep into the sand, leaving a stark white skeleton behind. Imagine. A skeleton lying, relaxed on the beach. Just enjoying the sunset.
I like the idea of the beach. I like the way the image of it sits in my mind, leaking sepia colours and smelling of sunscreen. I like the warmth of that image, and how it makes me feel like a little girl with a mother and a father, a bubblegum ice-cream and a long drive home with wet dog smell stuck to the insides of my nostrils. I like the idea of the beach I know from a childhood. But the beach in all its gritty actuality always falls short.
Tonight the beach is kind in its gentle cradling of me, in its caressing of me, and in the way the feel of it fills me up until I’m brimming with salt water and sand and a pleasant breed of alone-ness. Tonight I do not need a mother and a father and a rose coloured childhood dripping with bubblegum ice-cream.
Perhaps some memories taint the present with a poisonous kind of nostalgia. The kind of nostalgia that won’t allow you to enjoy the beach as a grown-up. The kind of nostalgia to blame for the fact that you still hate Brussel sprouts.
Some memories play out over and over again, like a scratched C.D getting caught on the same lyrics, so that the sound of them sticks to the back of your mind and stays there like chewing gum caught beneath a school desk. Some memories find a place under your pillow, creeping into your dreams when you sleep and nesting there, refamiliarising themselves with you. Some memories leave remnants of the past scattered like torn up newspaper across your life, interfering with days, turning objects into reminders. A blue dress. The smell of fresh orange juice. A feather tickling your top lip. The trick is to stop trying to achieve the same memory twice.