I watched Childhood today.
I cannot put down its beauty in words. A picture could not capture it. A video would have come closest. But to take one would have ruined it.
I have my mental video.
From my spot on the beach, hugging my knees in the cool wind, I watched the little girl, skinny legs braced in the sand, lean down and fill a plastic bottle with mud, tip it over to see that none fell out, then plop it down and repeat the process in the late afternoon sun. I watched the two other small girls—her sisters, I imagine—take their clear plastic bottles and make wonders with them. Catching waves in a bottle. Sprinkling sea foam over the giant sand pile they’d built. Running back and forth on the shore, full of endless energy. I watched their mother stand up from near their sand pile and brush herself off. Dressed in shorts and a tank top, she was there to help them have fun, but not to join in enough to get herself dirty.
After a time, I watched Grandpa come over and round up the girls. Time to come in, I imagined him saying.
I watched a snapshot of their childhood today.
My own involved dark brown dirt and grass, green leaves and grass stains. Theirs will involve the froth of the waves, wet sand on bare feet, salty mud coating driftwood.
Though our memories will be different, I saw myself in the girls today.