(Sorry, I can’t look at the word “precious” and NOT say it like Gollum.)
Inspired by Cheri’s post at Scrap Dreams, I found Sian’s Storytelling Sunday and decided to make a layout for my Things We Love album about a collection that’s precious to me. I’ll eventually create the layout, but the memories flowing through my heart, I had to put fingers to keys as soon as the inspiration hit (though it took me six months to actually hit the “publish” button).
Looking at these seashells, I can still feel the warmth of the sun beating on my face, the cool breeze of the ocean tickling my hair, the sound of the seagulls playing a symphony in my mind. New Smyrna Beach in Central Florida is my happy place. It’s where I spent some of the most memorable, most enjoyable days of my high school and college years. But these seashells are a reminder of something more precious than the beach: They’re a reminder of a very specific moment in time, shared by someone who I can no longer see, save the pictures in my albums and my mind.
Collecting these shells in New Smyrna while in college, only a few months after my friend Jennifer passed away, a precious memory was jogged. I remember writing the story down and sending it to her parents: It was my favorite summer, the one between my junior and senior year, the one when everything was perfect, the one when I got to spend endless days and nights with the first boy I ever loved and two of my BFFs on the Florida sand, in the Disney pools, down the streets of a nearby city, and in countless arcades, ice cream shops, and theaters. One summer day, lying out on the beach, enjoying the sensation of tanning and the trashy magazine I was reading, Jennifer got up with her water bottle and started mosying along the beach. When I finished reading about Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock, Jennifer was still walking up and down the beach… filling her water bottle with seashells. She wasn’t collecting just any ‘ole shells, though; she had to find the perfect ones. Thirty minutes later, we were ready to leave, but Jennifer had no interest in going yet, for she had yet to fill her bottle to the very top, which she was determined to do. At first selfishly motivated by my desire to get back on the road, I started helping her search for pretty shells to add to her bottle. The smile on her face upon achieving her goal was worth the extra time getting crispy in the sun, and I was happy to have contributed to it.
I don’t know what ever happened to that bottle, if it was found among her precious things after her passing. My collection, which was first in a bottle, then a plastic apple, and now a plastic baggie, waiting for me to do something meaningful with it, will forever be precious: a precious reminder of a precious time I wish I could get back, a precious reminder of a precious friend who was taken too soon.