It’s amazing to me how one single letter can change the meaning of a word, or evoke completely different memories from one person to another. By adding the ‘S’ onto Ocean Blue, it becomes Ocean Blues (a color of a paint chip used as a writing class prompt this morning). Adding the S gave the color number such a different meaning – 50 Shades of Blue comes to mind, or many shades of personal blues.
For me, the picture forming in my mind as I write this is a memory of walking along the wet, sandy and firm beach at the water’s edge by the Gulf of Mexico in Pensacola, one overcast day with my High School friend June, long after we’d both married and had kids. I snapped a quick picture of the beach at the water’s edge and managed to capture a picture of my own footprints in the sand.
When I returned home from my short Florida vacation and had the photos developed (before we all had digital cameras) I realized the footprints in the picture were mine. At age 30-something, after marriage, moving away and having two children of my own, these were the very same footprints I’d left years before as a teen, and would remain the same footprints I’d left that afternoon. In fact, these would be the same indentions I’d leave in this very sand, no matter how long I lived.
Thomas Wolfe wrote a novel titled You Can’t Go Home Again (which actually spoke to the illusion of prosperity and the unfair passing of time), and I understand what he meant, but there is something special knowing my footprints are still there, washed by the foam at the water’s edge like a seashell.
Sitting at my table in Denver, Colorado that afternoon, looking through vacation pictures, it seemed as if my footprints still lived there quietly at the beach I loved so much, and still do. The illusion of prosperity and the unfair passing of time (themes from Wolfe’s novel) circulated through in my mind.
But as for me, philosophical questions put aside, I know without a doubt that you can take a girl away from the beach, but you can’t take the beach away from the girl. There are seashells forever in my heart, and my footprints still live on in the sands at Pensacola beach. And I have the photo to prove it.
The photo with this post is one of early-morning Pensacola Beach sand, taken in June 2012, and is not the photo I remembered with my footprints so clearly visible. That photo is tucked away in a photo box from long ago. One of these days I’ll open up that box and find that one stunning photo, so full of memories. I might even frame it.
After all, my footprints live on in this picture, as much as they live on with the seashells and waves of the Gulf Coast. To me this speaks strongly of belonging.