Pajaro Dunes: Family Notebook
The sea’s hungry here, the sand so fine it clings to the face. Clutched in the fist, it spills through, falls away like powder. I’m reading about the schizophrenias. Out here my mind’s its own kind of wild. We crowd in the car, drive through streets of what could have been: Haute Enchilada, Hair’s On. The freeze-dri taxidermy place. My mother murmurs in the front seat— the unborn child, the lost sister. Gone. And me, born in the shadow of their passing. Here’s the story of the life I never lived: sandy loam, strawberry fields, rows of berry brambles and plump-to-bursting tartness. Seagrass and coastal fog. Sometimes they talked about it—you would have loved her, but mostly there was the sense of a soul slipped off too soon, lost before it had much life to live. The sea lays a wet stain on my mind. Where do we go to meet our dead? Where can we find the lost? In the measured wild of the taiko’s throb, its bachi-bachi beat? Every year, the drums’ staccato punctuated by shouts, the pulse that holds us all—dead, living, lost and found. I hear it in the pounding surf as my mother chases the spray, kite twirling overhead like a hurt bird through air. The wind’s swift kick and she’s a child again, hurtling across sand. Your arm remembers the feeling, she says. It’s something you never forget. So true. We’ve been lost before on this distant shore but still remember our way.