Pearls, and Possibilities

This is before September 11th; before insecurity, both national and financial was an issue. I am somewhere between the ages of nine and ten, ready to start the fifth grade at Captain Samuel Douglas Academy in the fall. The summer stretches before me, packed with family vacations and long, lazy New England days. I am as shiny as a pearl, eccentric, naïve, and carefree.
I break away from my mothers grasp, eager to feel the warm sand in between my toes. My hands are sticky from salt-water taffy, having been melted in my tightly clenched fist by the hot sun. I use this as an excuse to take a quick dip into the waves, only to be shouted back up the bank by my mother. At the beach, my mother becomes a sunscreen maniac, interrupting all beach activities to lather us up. This day is no exception, and I quickly retreat back to our supplies.
After our sunblock rations, my siblings and I take off in different directions. Ian, being the youngest at the time, remains in the sand. He begins to build a sand castle with his Blues Clues themed pail and shovel. Paul stands at the foot of the beach, letting the tides gently lap his feet. My parents are shamelessly flirting on a beach towel, smiling up into the warm Maine sun.
I scan the beach for my sister; at this age I am afraid to be without her, afraid of being incomplete. I see her standing a few feet away, at the mouth of a tide pool. Today we have a mission: to capture a lobster and smuggle it back to our New Hampshire home. As children, our biggest heartbreak was being pet deprived. Without a little creature to nurture, we felt useless. This is the beginning of one of our countless sagas to achieve a pet.
We walk on tiptoes through the tide pool, careful not to step on a frustrated crab. From our previous adventures, we have already ruled them out as possible pets. I venture towards a bank of muscle shells. Earlier that summer, Jillian and I had searched these shells for pearls; at the time nothing seeming impossible. This is my favorite spot; I can look back and watch my entire family, as they play, learn, and grow- but I can not be touched. Back then anything was possible for us- even finding a pearl in a muscle shell.

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