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“It is enough to be convinced once and for all that reality is change, that change is indivisible, and that in an indivisible change the past is one with the present.”

–Henri Bergson Add a Tooltip Text

It was an old style beach cottage; it belonged to friends of my parents. We spent a lot of time there as kids. My cousin says it’s been remodeled and made into a monster. He says if I went back now, I wouldn’t recognize it, though of course it’s in the same place. It had classic, unpainted shingles and the trim was yellow. It sat right on the other side of the dunes from the ocean, lurking down there. So you couldn’t see the ocean from the house, but you could feel it and smell it. The windows were always open, no screens, with the breeze from the ocean blowing through. Your feet would burn when you ran over the dunes from the beach to use the bathroom.

One time I took a shit in the ocean, it was something I decided to do without any help from my parents, it was a moment of neglect, or independence. I had a situation and there was simply no one at hand to advise me; the adults were sitting around in a circle of aluminum chairs drinking wine, eating cookies. I didn’t think I could make it over the dune to the house. I just didn’t have time. So I waded into the ocean and pushed past the break in the waves, diving under some and backing into others. I swam as far as I could without drowning. Then I did what I did.

After, I was full of shame and relief. When I got out, I decided to walk down the beach in the other direction for a while and recover from my crime. I immediately ran into my fourth grade teacher. (Maybe I was going into the fifth grade.) I loved my fourth grade teacher. She saved one of my poems, and when she did that, she saved some little part of me. But I walked right by, like I didn’t know her. I didn’t like myself for any of it. Eleven years old is a good age for doing things you shouldn’t, things you don’t even want to do. Then you suffer silently, isolating yourself from others who might suspect or guess at it, what you did, to yourself, to your world. I didn’t know that the oceans were already full of mistakes, waste, corpses, worse. Fuller now, of course.

My cousin said if I went back now I wouldn’t recognize it, though of course it’s in the same place.