Saturday, April 30, 2016

Memories Of Snake's Stores Island

Owen hit his first home run today and then we all went and got pizza and even though it's hard for me right now, I am quite able to recognize these moments of glory that I have in my life, daily, no matter what.
When Gibson wants to snuggle up to me and wraps my arms around him with his arms. When Maggie smiles at me and my kisses. When I watch the way my Lily is with her children. When Owen wants to sit next to me at lunch. When Boppy makes us all laugh. When Jason coaches his team and the children are boys and are girls and are tiny and are precious and everyone claps for everything, even when the "other" team does anything worth clapping for which is almost anything.
These moments cut through the disassociation and lowness of my soul like bright beams of light cutting through cave-dark and will lead me to the light again and I know it.

Tomorrow Jessie and I are heading for the beach and I think that May and Michael are coming for a few days too. I have packed: Christmas lights, a fancy-schmancy coloring book with many colored pencils, the baby-walker, and...that's all.
Oh well. Jessie says all I need is a beach towel, my chair, a good mug and my bathing suit. She's pretty much correct.
We are going to meet at Costco tomorrow to buy pimento cheese and booze and bread and chips and fruit and possibly some vegetables. Salsa, I am sure, which is a fine vegetable and avocados and limes by the bag. I have plenty of cilantro from the garden and we'll be bringing that too and there will be guacamole which is an even finer serving of vegetables. We will buy seafood on the island from Doug, whom we bought shrimp from back when Jessie was a tiny girl and we spent the summers on St. George in a tiny two-room apartment, cement block, yard of sandspurs, now a tattoo parlor, I believe. Oh, those summers. Long, long days of just me and the little girls, mostly, Hank and May already grown up and going on with their lives, Daddy joining us on weekends. Hunting for periwinkles for me to make soup of, watching dolphins, them having the grand privilege of walking the block to the little store to buy candy. The ice-cream store, the Jimmy Buffet dancing, the Bingo at the fire station on Tuesday nights where one night, Jessie won the jackpot and wanted a pair of Panacea Nikes which are rubber boots the sort that the fishermen wear. She got them, too. Me forcing them to take the sunset walks to see the dolphins returning to the east side of the island even though we'd watched them in the morning heading west to the cut to feed. The sand castles, the floating in the water, cool and warm at the same time. The millions and billions of stars in the night time sky, the giant moon rising up and making a golden path over the water.
Nighttime bedtime reading. Me sleeping on a futon with my feet right next to the canned goods. The twinkle lights around the room, the guy next door who sat on the sidewalk and drank beer and was a good soul and his name was Wayne. The year we had adopted a horrible dog who tore up the apartment, breaking blinds and lamps and shit everywhere. Me trying to grow a little garden in the sand and rocks which Wayne would water for me when I was gone.
Jessie thinking the name of the place was Snake's Stores Island until we corrected her- St. George Island- and I wish I never had. The time Liz Sparks came down and made me supper and a birthday cake. The few and far between evenings we'd go down to the little beach bar and I'd have a beer and a shot of tequila and the girls would get Shirley Temples and play on the sand, the setting sun making crazy magic light everywhere. The sound of the cicadas, deafening as they'd begin in one place on the bay and then, as if conducted by a god, the rest of them on the island chorusing in until the air was filled with the sound, alive and buzzing and electric and I'd go next door to a building which was abandoned but you could climb up on the roof and watch the sunset and listen and I would shiver in the summer heat, it all being too much to bear for one human person.
The times we had to evacuate for hurricanes.
The storms that came and went.
The reruns on TV that the children begged to watch. Old, ancient sit-coms they loved.
I remember the week my oldest friend from childhood came and stayed with me, just the two of us, and one night we got drunk enough to go down to the water in the middle of the night and float in the gulf with the stars above us, completely and utterly naked, talking about all of the things in our hearts.

And now those little girls will be putting the sunscreen on their children and sharing with them what is in their very bone marrow from those summers although the house we are staying in has actual bedrooms and a kitchen and so forth. Which is lovely. We watched the house we are going to be staying in be built on one of the summers we stayed there. Everyone on the island hated those houses, built right on the beach, blocking the view, but I always thought they were pretty damn charming, although I felt sorry for the people who rented them, only getting a week there while we, who had to walk between them to get to the water, had an entire summer in our little cement block apartment.

And tomorrow is Jessie's birthday. She will be turning 27 and how that happened is a complete mystery to me. We are talking about buying her one of Costco's giant cakes and I think we may do that. She was just born yesterday on a rainy day and after she was born, a rainbow appeared in the sky. A perfect home birth, my friends and family all there, such labor, such work, then peace and joy.

On these days when things are hard, when my soul is so low, it is good to remember all of these things, to have this week to look forward to, to make new memories, this time with grandchildren and by god I hope I see and hear and feel the ghosts of those summers past. Those little girls, so golden and young, dancing across the sand as the waves come and go, and maybe I'll see the ghost of me too, a woman whom I thought then was getting so old in her just-turning-forties, sitting outside at the plastic table in the sandspur yard scribbling on paper with a pen by the light of the citronella candles, the smear of the Milky Way above me, my babies in bed on the other side of the wall, safe and clean as saltwater and freshwater and soap could make them, sleeping and dreaming.

That little beach bar is still there. I bet you that at one point, we will go down for a sunset and have a shot of tequila and a beer and Owen and Gibson will play on the sand and maybe even get a Shirley Temple. Oh. There will be pictures. You just wait.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. Your memories, your writing, the continuity of the past and present are so beautiful. I love that your grandchildren will know the same magic as their parents. I hope you have a wonderful time, full of love and peace and I hope you still see all those stars in the sky, and the dolphins too. It sounds like heaven.

  2. Oh Mary that was just beautiful. I know you will have a joyful time. I hope you feel better x

  3. All of this sounds so very familiar to me. So much so that I have been searching your past posts for the past two months or so looking for the accounts of that cement block house full of kids and snacks and love. It seems to me that I read it a long time ago, perhaps 2009 or so. Did you have another blog? Perhaps I am losing it.

    Anyway, I am glad you are going. It sounds very soul-soothing.


  4. Mel- It can be heaven. I've experienced that.

    Leisha- Thank you, sweetie. So very, very much.

    Invisigal- I've written about it all before but long ago, most likely. On this blog. The very same.

  5. OH, Mary, your beautiful words brought a lump to my throat! You've always been such a good mama, and now your babies' babies get to make memories, too! My memory of our family trip to the Grand Canyon came to mind. Four of us in a cabin with two beds, my brother, four at the time, and me, eight sharing one bed. I was in awe when Mom carried in a Folger's coffee can (and they really were cans back then!) and put it in the far corner by the closet. That, I soon found out, was our bathroom! Luckily, we only stayed two nights! But my little brother called it the 'Dam Cannon," and it's still how we refer to it some 52 years later. Damn, I miss my Mama!

  6. This was so wonderful, and made me turn nostalgic for the week long family vacations I took as a child with my whole family, aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins, to Cherry Grove, SC. That's just north of Myrtle Beach. Those long days and nights at the beach felt magical. Thank you for reminding me of them! They feel so long ago.

    Have a wonderful, wonderful time Ms Moon! ♡♡♡♡♡♡♡

  7. This is a good one. A grab my heart one.

  8. Lovely memories, Mary. Looking forward to pictures.

  9. Oh, what pictures. Guacamole and giant Costco cake sound perfect.

  10. oh my. such love and lovely memories. being young and making do with babies at hand.

  11. Yep this one got me by the heart too. I'm in another country another culture another hemisphere and yet I know and love such similar memories. Thanks Mary

  12. Oh, so THAT's where you are. "Snakes Stores Island" -- it's so funny what kids hear. The world must be so confusing to them.


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