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little fishies

September 30, 2009

Today I’m in Sioux Falls, SD again. I need to go for a run, and am trying to plot my course. In the meantime I’m listening to the coffee maker sputter and putting lotion on my sunburned face.

This time yesterday I spent two hours on one of the most beautiful beaches I have been to. I brought a book – “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” – but had to stop reading frequently. I felt like it was wrong of me to be in such a beautiful place and send my mind somewhere else.

I’ve been to many beaches, and I’ve been to that particular beach many times, but yesterday was perfect. There weren’t very many people, so for the most part, I heard nothing but the waves and the birds. The sand was clean, soft, and white. The water was so clear I could see the little holes the sea creatures dig on the bottom and schools of fish scurrying around. The fish were the same color as the water when it makes a ripple of a wave and goes from clear to shiny, pale turquoise. The sun was out – but not too bright – and there was a breeze just cool enough to make you appreciate the sun’s presence. The gulf was smooth and the waves on top were replicated by the waves in the sand underneath. I think they were there just for texture.

A family eventually came out and set up camp to the right of me. There were two pre-adolescent girls with braids to their waists and swim shirts and shorts on. Everyone in the group had on shorts with shirts or one-pieces. I felt that I was watching myself 20 years ago. The littlest girl would come out of the water every ten minutes or so and run up one end of the beach and down the other to chase all the birds away. I wonder why children like to chase birds away. Maybe, for once, they feel powerful.

I grew up in an environment where a lot of emphasis was placed on appearance (clothing and hair especially). My family and I have long since realized that these things are not what’s important, but it is always interesting for me to see people who still believe this. I have no criticism for these people, but watching them I sometimes feel like the fish that escaped the fishbowl and now has the whole sea to swim in. I know what it’s like on the inside. I know what they think when they see me in my bikini. I know that I am much happier this way.

I felt so fortunate to be spending a few hours surrounded by such beauty and tried to soak in as much as possible. In visiting between Ft. Walton Beach, the detectives in Botswana, and the fishbowl I forgot how much delightful sun I was soaking in and now have an uneven, raccoon-eye-causing sunburn. It was worth it.

Currently reading: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

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