My Real Life

August 24, 2016

Beautiful Memories

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 9:57 am

On our beach vacation, Tiny spent a good deal of time collecting rocks and shells.

He called it “catching shells” because he’s five and because the beach demands terminology used at sea.

You catch fish.  Why wouldn’t you catch shells?

While I spent my time looking in the surf, picking up, throwing back, examining, and trying to find just the right one, Tiny found beauty in everything he found.

“Oh, Mama! Lookit! Dis is so beautiful!”

“Wow! It’s the prettiest!”

“I never seen one like dis!”

And, the result was that I left at the end of the week with one, beautiful stone that was naturally shaped like a heart, and Tiny left with a bag full of a mixture of half a mussel, concrete, a dirty clam shell, and a bunch of other pebbles that could have easily come from someone’s driveway.

When we came home, I soaked everything in a solution of bleach and water because, for Christmas, I plan to get him a lamp with a glass base into which we can deposit those rocks and shells, each year, and when he is grown up, he can take it with him…a tangible memory of our summers together.

And, when they came out of the solution, they looked slightly better than they had before, but the cleaning process also showed those which had no real, recognizable beauty.

Tiny was in the basement, playing with his brother, and so, I thought I’d cull his collection down to just those that will look pretty in the base of that lamp. I took the others and tossed them beside the deck, and put the rest in a baggie, to await Christmas.

When he came upstairs, he asked to see his shells (because he calls them all shells since he found them at the beach) and I pulled out the bag.

He started to take them out, one at a time, and place them on the table, “oohing” and “aahing” over each one, when he suddenly stopped.

“Mama. Where’s the rest?”

I wasn’t sure how to play this, because I had been sure he wouldn’t notice the absence of a piece of cement, a broken mussel and some pebbles, so I responded, “The rest of what?”


“The rest of my shells. Where they at?”

So, I explained that I kept the prettiest shells for his collection and put the rest of them outside, and I began to trip over my words as his eyes began to fill with tears.

“What’s the matter?” I asked him.

“I fink they’re ALL pretty because we caught them together.”

So, out to the yard we went, and we were able to find them all because I had dropped them right next to the front porch, and we added them to the bag, and they, too, will find their home in the base of the lamp.

I’m not sure how could I have forgotten that happy memories are always beautiful, no matter what they look like on the outside.


August 16, 2016


Filed under: Uncategorized — Amy @ 11:09 am

There are moments in life which fill you with joy.

I don’t mean happiness.

I mean joy.




Just joy.

Moments with my family can fill you with joy, for sure.

Moments of personal success can also fill me with joy.

But, I find, that often, the things that bring me  joy are the experiences that spark memories from childhood.

And my childhood wasn’t necessarily filled with joy.

But there were moments…

So, what sparked this line of thought?

Last week, my family vacationed at the beach.

New Jersey was in the middle of an intense heat wave, and the air was thick and hot and suffocating.

I don’t love the beach.

But, man, do I love the ocean.

Tiny and Baby played in the surf and Real Man, Monkey Girl, Monkey in the Middle and I went out to bob in the waves.

And, as the kids and I do, when in the water, we started searching for the perfect wave.

That wave that would drive us into the shore.

The water was rough and the waves kept coming.

Over and over again, I bodysurfed those waves.

And you just know, when you are in it, whether it will take you all the way or drop you off midway to shore.

You need to feel just the right rumble of churning water under your stomach, and that’s your signal that you are going the distance.

And when I feel that rumble, I smile.

As hard as I try to keep my mouth closed, I smile and shriek and laugh and tumble and get knocked around like a leaf in the wind and it fills me with an unparalleled glee.


As a kid, we vacationed at the beach, and I would spend the entire day catching these waves, and even today, as an adult, I don’t care how disheveled I am as the waves deposit me on the sand.

And I am disheveled.

My hair is full of seaweed, and it covers my face as I’m gasping for air, choking, coughing, bathing suit askew, and I’m running back out to catch the next one, immediately.

I have no inhibitions in the ocean, because the ocean gives me such joy.

To be caught in a body so vast and a power so strong.

It’s exhilarating.

It’s fun.

It’s joy.

My dream has always been to open a used bookstore where people could come and exchange their books for new ones at minimal cost.

There would be an area to sit and read and drink coffee or tea, and I imagine shelves bursting with well-read, well-loved books, that would change hands again and again and again.

And I want this bookstore to exist at the beach, because what’s better than finding that vacation read while on vacation.

That’s my dream, and it just doesn’t work anywhere that isn’t the beach, because at the end of the day, when I close the door, and flip the sign to “Closed,” I want to hit the beach and get tossed around a little by nature.

Because, for me, that is joy.

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