I keep making this mistake that people are what they are right at this moment. That the old man with bags of cans always was and will be an old man with bags of cans. That because Ginny is what’s called a snowbird, which I’d never ever even heard of ‘til someone explained them in Vegas, that’s all she ever was and is – easy life, multiple homes, limited interests. But as usual, I know nothing about people. I learned today that when Ginny goes for a walk along the beach she brings a grocery bag so she can pick up any bits of stray trash. I bring a bag so I can gather stones for my new backsplash. Someone seeing me would call me a grabber, a nature stealer, someone who can’t see beauty without needing to own it. Or at least, that’s what I accused Bobby of, right in this spot, years ago.
Like Bobby, I want to take this place with me, make it part of what I call home. Unlike Bobby, I go for small stones whereas he went for boulders. Looking back, I bet he was just sad. Frustrated. Seeing other performers getting better recognition, better venues, better reviews. He wanted his piece. And he was stuck with someone who wasn’t helping him fight for it. Someone who didn’t live and breath clown theater, which probably sounds inane to most people, but that’s exactly why he needed someone who lived it and breathed it. And instead, I was mostly waiting for him to get past it.
For whatever reason, we considered ourselves stuck with each other and did whatever we needed to do to give ourselves some choices. I chose books. He chose boulders. Temporary manifestations of the need to control time and place. Now etched into memory as the unsupportive girlfriend and the clown who wanted a boulder.
There’s almost no garbage on the beach, just an occasional piece of package wrapper or inexplicable purple ribbon. Ginny’s forgotten a bag, so she’s carrying them in one slim, manicured hand. With the other, she picks up possible backsplash stones and hands them to me for inspection. I don’t ask if she thinks I’m weird or selfish for taking them. She doesn’t seem like the judgmental type. But then again, I know nothing about people.