Touchstones

Touch Stones .jpg

A while ago, I was at a social event with Mike’s golf friends. Someone asked me what I did – Mike golfed, so what did I do? And I didn’t have a good answer for that. It made me ragey that I really didn’t have a thing that sounded commensurate with their commitment to golf. It made me an outsider. That spiralled off in an unhealthy way to me looking at hobbies that friends have – what they collect or create with their own hands or spend their weekends doing with their peers. And I couldn’t see anything in my life that was commensurate with that, either. I don’t knit, crochet, sew, or game. I don’t play sports or a musical instrument. I don’t belong to any clubs for the similarly-inclined.

Uh. I garden and homestead. By myself. Which seems entirely unimpressive.

I have a few things that a casual observer might call collections. Still, it feels more like the answer to What do you *like*, not what do you *do*. I have my half of my grandmother’s tea cups (My sister has the other half). I have some additional ones from my Uncle Jack and Auntie Dot’s house that are currently in a box at my mom’s house. I have a shelf full of Gregory Maguire books and Tomie DePaola picture books. I have some pieces of pottery with a watercolour sunflower pattern. I have a disparate collection of Maleficent things.

Aaaand, that’s all. Oy vey, LAME!

But, wait. The beach treasures. Since my mental health has declined, a new thing has emerged. I collect, tend, and curate beach glass. Most of you know that. My family used to have a cottage on Lake Erie, and I would find little cone-shaped snail shells. Sometimes, I’d find some beach glass. My grandma said that cobalt blue glass was good luck. So in the intervening years between age 6 or 8 and a few years ago, I randomly collected glass. Not in any kind of dedicated way. But I have always preferred beach glass to shells on the beach. Why tempt fate if good luck is right there waiting for you on the beach? The water throws all kinds of curiosities up on the beach. Matchbox cars, shotgun shells, sunglasses, and, of course glass and ceramics. When I go to the beach, it isn’t so much about going to the beach to *find* the glass. It’s about going to the beach to *look for* the glass. It’s about shutting out all the noise. The beach is always full of gifts, and I need to go and trade my panicky feelings for what the beach offers back – marbles, blue glass, worn tin, bits of water-worn ceramic tiles and broken china cups – things that I take with me like talismans against the slippery slope back to an aggrieved state.

There is a Glayva Scotch 2 oz. bottle on my desk filled with blue glass of different shades. I roll the contents around in there for a few seconds sometimes to help buoy myself on the sucky days at work. I pour out the Chivas 40 oz bottle of green glass or the Krakken 24 oz bottle of my rarest and favourite pieces on my dining room table on the sucky days at home. And then I put everything back where it was, and there’s a little more coping available in my day.

But a little while ago, someone asked me what I’m going to do with it all, and I have some ideas. But not a plan. Mike rolled his eyes, because he just thinks I collect garbage off the beach. There’s no value. And I was angry enough that I couldn’t speak to him for the rest of the day. I doubt he noticed, and he’d think it was ridiculous that I was so mad. He wouldn’t get it at all. So what did I do? At the next opportune time, I went to the beach and traded the anguish in my angry little heart for more gifts from the lake.

Spite-beachcombing: Totally a thing.

I still don’t have a good answer to “what do you do”. And I still don’t like that I don’t have a good answer. In my clear high-self-esteem days my locus of identity is internal, and I don’t know why this chaps my ass so much. And on other days, there’s the commerce of the beach treasures.

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