This winter I’ve felt a touch of sadness in the dark afternoons. It hasn’t been too disturbing, and it generally goes away after I do my rowing machine workout and sweat it out. Still, it got me thinking that I probably ought to take a few minutes to check in on my younger selves in their imaginary refuge of Channelwood.

I found Queenie, the most melancholy past version of me, cocooned in thick blankets and sitting quietly on the empty sands of a beach. The cliffs and bay curved away toward a cloudy horizon. A chilly wind blew, carrying an occasional raindrop along with the ocean’s salty scent.

Seashore photo on a cloudy day.

(Image credit: Ihor Hlukhoi)

Although I hadn’t brought any blankets into the scene for myself, that omission was easily remedied by picturing a heavy quilt appearing around my shoulders as I greeted my younger self.

“Hello, Queenie, how are you doing today?”

She blinked up at me from her nest of blankets, only her face visible, cheeks reddened from the cold.

“I’m just being.”

The waves rolled in again, just a little closer this time. A thin strand of seaweed got caught on a pebble, disrupting the otherwise smooth expanse of sand.

“Would it be okay if I sit here for a few minutes just being, too?”

Queenie had gone back to looking out over the sea, and I was starting to wonder if she meant to answer me. Then she gave a small nod, as if she’d decided that no words were necessary.

I arranged myself and the quilt on the sand next to Queenie, with everything but my face protected from the cold wind, as she had done. I felt comfortable enough. We sat there in silence, listening to the ocean’s soothing, repetitive flow.

After I’d been sitting there for a while, I began to notice that each wave sounded just a little different from the one before. They came swirling in with more or less force, and some of them rolled back out more slowly than others. The beach wasn’t as smooth and featureless as it had looked at first glance, either. The strand of seaweed that I’d noticed earlier was not the only one, and there were shells, driftwood, and other small things scattered all over.

Even when the daylight began to fade and the little details became less visible, the glowing sunset colors and their reflections on the waves spoke to me of infinity. As Queenie and I gathered up our blankets and turned to go, I took a deep breath of the fresh sea air, wondering how I could ever have felt that one winter day was much the same as another.

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