Sands of Time
By Renae Brabham / Photos by Renae Brabham
I am wise to the idiosyncrasies of beach people now that I am one.
The first time I remember my feet touching the silt of the sea, I was around eight years old at Atlantic Beach in North Carolina. I remember the scary tug of disappearing sand as the tide pulled it from under my feet; I felt I would fall. I crave that tug annually. We have never lived more than four hours from the coast, but it seemed like forever away sometimes. I once put sand in a box and brought it home. Then one cold winter’s day, I warmed it in the microwave, took the box to my office and jammed my toes into it while I worked at the computer.
In the late 70's, I was pregnant with my first daughter but wasn’t about to let that keep me from the sanctity of putting my ass in the sands of Key West. I dug a hole in front of a probably now-defunct sand bar blaring Peter Frampton and Bog Seger. I then placed my rotund belly in the cool concave. About a half hour into my sunbathing, a dude hit on me. I put my book down and rolled over to address him. He stopped mid-sentence and took off when he saw the swollen orb that had been hiding in the sand. Eight weeks later when I went into labor I walked the sands of South Carolina's Isle of Palms because walking the halls of a hospital was far less appealing.
I swear I almost made an oyster in the car ride home once.
When I go to the beach, I seldom go into the ocean, but I love the waves, the tug in the shallow surf. I adore how the sand makes me feel. I have come as far as one can go, to the edge of my terra firma without being consumed by its majesty, the ocean. I am wise to the idiosyncrasies of beach people now that I am one. Over the sands of time, I have been all of them.
Those with the faraway look in their eyes. I used to walk past them and check to see what caught their gaze. Nothing and everything. Buried feet people who didn’t apply sunblock on their feet the day before. Combers walking straight ahead intently who pass you again a half hour later with the same intent. Hunch-backed seekers, young and old, with solo cups full of shark teeth and shells.
The builders who leave their mark in the sand, complete with moated castles and windows made of seashells. Losers who don’t know the tides and return to find their chairs, flip-flops and towels consumed by the Atlantic.
Last, sweet baby Jesus, bless their hearts — the sea gull feeders. Please, just don’t.
I can also tell you that sand is the best pedicure you can get. I always come back from a beach day with pristine pink-bottomed feet. Sand isn’t always kind, though. I would pack band-aids for Don and the boys for their boogie board-irritated nipples. And there is nothing worse than sand in any crack if you aren’t near a shower when you leave the beach. I swear I almost made an oyster in the car ride home once.
Continuity, nowhere is it clearer than at the edge of America.
Today, on Folly Beach, I am just lost in the awesomeness of it all. I begin searching for elusive sharks’ teeth. I’m sure I don’t look that distraught, but a kind man comes over to me, holds out a hand full and gives me three. Others have walked by him and he chose me to reach out to. I freaking love kindness! Don then finds one and gives it to me, too.
After about an hour, we make our way back to the public access. I see my granddaughter sitting in the sand, her seven-month pregnant belly swollen. With a little imagination, I can picture my great-granddaughter Tinley rising her butt up to greet the sun and surf. Continuity, nowhere is it clearer than at the edge of America.