All week whenever E went to the beach she took a zippy bag with her so she could collect. She picked up lots and lots of stuff, loosely divided into two categories: "my shells" and "my cholawkolate rocks." Shells means shells, and also sea glass, and also general debris. Chocolate rocks are any pebbles that are within the spectrum of chocolate-colored. These are very important and valuable if you're two and in possession of a rabid sweet tooth. Apparently, fake candy is nearly as satisfying as real candy, and carries the added distinction of not melting if you clutch it for hours tightly in your hand.
I had the thought part-way through our vacation that I wanted to curate a shell collection for L, too, to commemorate her first trip to the ocean. I was drawn to these tiny white shells. I don't know what they're from, clams, maybe. They are so tiny and perfect; and also so plentiful, and so abundantly discarded. I had the notion that they're the baby teeth of the beach. They're starter shells, left over from before their owners outgrow them and move on to bigger and better things. Does it work that way? Or are they here because their tiny owners have been eaten by a gigantic flounder or something? I don't know. But I like the idea of baby teeth. Beginner homes from mollusks who one day announced, Mom, Dad, I'll be getting my own place now, not the one you picked out for me, decorated with clowns or bunnies, but my own pad, all my own. It's in another tidepool a few sandbars down. Don't worry, I'll call if I need money. Don't you call me, because I'll never hear the phone ring with the way I'm going to crank the music up LIKE YOU NEVER LET ME DO. Leave the womb for a crib, trade the crib for a bed, exchange that bed for a long skinny one in a dorm room far away and then maybe a futon at a friend's apartment and then who knows, maybe a bed of one's own in a place all one's own. Up and out and bigger and better and I love these tiny shells so small and so pristine and so abandoned for possibility and promise and an unknown future. L won't remember this trip, but she'll have these mementos. I'd like to find a tiny apothecary jar for storing them for her. Baby shells for my baby girl.