Because I am a lucky person, my home – my life – is littered with sand dollars. They appear on the kitchen counter; in small containers meant to hold leftover food; on the porch table; on the side table; in the passenger door of the newer car; in the console of the older one. I collect them whenever I go to the beach, which is often, and though I try to leave them there, I almost never do.
Here, though, is the indulgent part, the detail that embarrasses me a bit: I have such ready access to sand dollars that I now tend to only take the perfect ones home. A decade ago, I would have gathered all that I could find, the pieces and the shards and the ones missing sections. Every once in a while, I still do. But mainly, now, in this too-rich life, I look for the ones without flaws, the ones where it’s possible to see the fine pointillism tattooed onto each near-white surface.
Some days, there are a million of those.
Slowly, surely, reverently, delightedly, I pick them up. I may discard some as soon as I discover their imperfections; other times, I claim them all, at least temporarily. I like the small ones best, the ones so tiny that they fit comfortably on the tip of my index finger. I like the big ones too though, and the ones that are gray, and the ones that have a scallop to their edge.
Then, when I can carry no more, when my hands and my pockets are full, I sort through my treasures. If there is a child nearby, or someone obviously engaged in the same activity (perhaps having less luck since they are trailing me), I will offer up some of my ridiculous bounty.
But more often than not, there is no one near. So I tuck the most beautiful ones away, ready to sprinkle them like breadcrumbs through the trails of my life. I leave the others behind, laying them someplace where another beachgoer might find them, convincing myself all the while that they are just as good, and only not quite for me.