Beach and shells

Dead things

It’s a measure of my mood yesterday that I walked along the beach thinking about how beaches are really just big cemeteries. Sand? Just the decayed and crumbled skeletons of sea creatures. Shells? Leftover body parts. Dying jellyfish? Well, you know, dying jellyfish.

I was sort of glad that I’d already read online that there’s no point in trying to save the jellyfish because otherwise I might have felt I should try. But a) they might sting you and b) the conditions that caused them to wash up on shore still exist, so they’ll be back onshore soon even if you do manage to get them into the ocean, so no point. And c) there were far too many of them. I know if I’d managed to save one that it might have appreciated it, but I would have felt overwhelmed by the futility. And probably stung, too.

On the other hand, look — gorgeous beach! Beautiful dying jellyfish in iridescent greens and blues. Big shells — the brown one was the biggest shell I’d ever found on a beach, and the white one was probably second. And the weather’s been crap — I swear, Texas might be the wettest state I have ever spent time in — but the sun came out twice, once at sunset last night, and then this morning for about an hour, just long enough for Zelda and I to have a really nice walk. It’s gone now and might not be back while I’m here, but at least I got to appreciate the sunny ocean for a little while.

My mood has been shaded by the mice. I’m not even sure I can explain how oppressive I find it to be living with something I’m trying to kill. Or to find mouse turds scattered across my kitchen counter. To not know whether mice are running across my bed while I’m sleeping. To never know when I open a cabinet whether there’ll be a mouse inside. To wonder whether my congestion is allergies or the first symptoms of a virus that might kill or bankrupt me. I know, total over-reaction. But Serenity is such a small space. It’s not like sharing hundreds of square feet with rodents. I’ve lived in houses with rats before and it hasn’t bothered me this much. I wonder how much the extremely high-pitched whine of the ultrasonic repeller, just at the edge of my hearing, is getting to me? Maybe a lot. But I’m not ready to give up on them, since the mice appear to be laughing at my traps.

I’ve also been probably out of proportion upset by the loss of Zelda’s duck. For ten years — literally, ten years, since the Christmas when she was not quite two — she’s had one toy that she loves. Every night, she licks it for a while before going to sleep. When people came over to visit, she would find her duck and bring it to them. One year we went on vacation in my dad’s RV and didn’t bring the duck. Every night she searched for it, then stared at me plaintively, asking for my help. We were both so glad to get home to it. It was battered and worn and gross, the fur licked off in places. But it was her lovey.

And it’s gone.

I have no idea how. I imagine a horde of mice carrying it away in revenge for the murder of their leader, but that’s pretty unlikely. I did laundry, so maybe it got caught up in the clothes? But how would I not have seen it in the laundry room? Most likely, I suppose, is that Zelda carried it outside at our last campsite and I didn’t notice. I called the campground — not that anyone would ever have turned it in to a lost-and-found, it would have looked like trash. The guy on the phone was super nice about it and promised to look, but he didn’t call back, so I’m sure he didn’t find it. I am not surprised. But oh, watching Zelda roam the camper, trying to find her duck, just breaks my heart. I feel like such a bad mom. I keep coming up with implausible places that I haven’t checked — like, maybe I put it in the microwave when I was stuffing all the food the mice might want in there. No, I didn’t. A) Why would I? and b) there’s not even enough room for the food in there. Maybe she carried it outside at this campground and it’s under the van! No, it’s not.

It’s stupid, I know. In a world where desperate refugees are trying to keep their children warm, worrying about a dog’s lovey is just ridiculously privileged. But she doesn’t understand why it’s gone and why I won’t find it for her and I… well, I am really sad about it. I understand, I suppose, that I’m projecting all my fears of losing Zelda, that anticipated pain, into her experience of loss now, but intellectualizing the emotion isn’t helping me feel better about it.

On Matagorda Bay, this weekend, we were on the beach when it started to rain. Zelda was off-leash and she started to run. She disappeared into the dunes and I had a long minute of thinking of all the possible things that could happen if she didn’t stop running — would she get lost? Would she run out into the road and get hit by a car? Would she step on a snake? And then she popped out again, cocking her head to the side, like she was saying, “Mom? Could you hurry it up here? We’re getting WET!” I hope that if she could choose, she would choose our adventures of the past seven, going on eight, months over keeping her duck safe at home. And I can’t know if she would, but I know that I would, and that does help me feel better.

Time to write more Grace. Akira’s finally coming home. I have never gotten farther than this part — this is where I’ve turned back and started over again from the beginning several times — so it’ll be interesting to see what today brings. *fingers crossed for new words,  not self-doubt.