Saturday, 10 September 2011

Little Brown Nut

There are things that stay with you for your entire life, like your nose, freckles, the twinkle in your eyes, and that odd little snort when you are really laughing hard. Some things come and go, like teeth, hair, cars, hearing, family, money, pets, teachers, warts and good looks. Other things come into your life at various times and stay, like children, grandchildren, glasses, homes, friends, that sore back when a storm is coming, beliefs, your favourite pair of underwear and that little brown nut.

No, get your mind out of the gutter! It is really and truly a nut...I think.

When I was thirteen, my parents held a family meeting and told us that rather than spend a fortune on Christmas presents, we should go to Florida for the holidays! Florida sounds pretty cool, but no presents? It turns out that it wasn’t a family discussion at all, but rather an information meeting to tell us of a done deal. Well, I was a little bit more flexible back in those days and I guess that I will be able to leave the snow and cold of Toronto behind for a couple of weeks, to lie in the sun at Hollywood Fla. by the sea. We flew down that year, but in the years to come we would drive down in a marathon of hell. I am sure I will get around to writing about those drives in the future, after the pain has gone.

Perhaps I should give you just a tidbit to keep you reading loyally. I was fifteen and we were all packed and had been on the road for about two hours out of twenty four when my brother said “Did you know that Ken smokes?” Twenty two hours of listening to my parents alternating between quiet talk and yelling the reasons why I shouldn’t smoke. All the while I could see my brother with a smug, shit eating grin on his face.

We had been down in Florida for a few days at the Beach Terrace Motel and while walking along the beach I spotted a small brown thing floating in and out with the surf. It took a few tries, but I rescued it and saw that it was a seed of some sort. It was about an inch (two and a half centimetres) around, and three quarters of an inch wide. There is a darker brown strip running around the wide edge and at the back there is what I suspect is a hinge of sorts, like a clams. It is rough, smooth and shiny, and feels very nice in your hand.
I have always believed that it came all the way from Africa, but really who knows? I started to think about this seed and all of the other flotsam that is in the ocean and began to form a mental picture of how islands in the middle of an ocean would develop soil and eventually plants. This seed and its brothers helped to make this world the wonderful place it is. It seems odd, but I became very attached to that brown seed the moment I held it in my hand. I carried that seed with me constantly for the rest of our time in Florida. I guess that it just made me feel safe and good. I would hold it during times of stress and it would calm me down. Living with my brother caused me plenty of stress.

I kept the seed with me when I got back to Toronto and would take it to school and hold it while I was attempting to pay attention in class. I was a little shy back then and I would use my seed to give me confidence to talk to girls that I liked and stand up to people that I didn’t. It wasn’t a very good help in school, and probably not with the girls either, but it did make me feel warm. I can’t explain it. Over the years I have carried it from time to time. I don’t carry the seed all the time any more, but I have a type drawer that I use as a shelf for special little things hanging on the wall and my seed has a place of prominence. The shelf has Maegan’s nose cast, a tiny coke bottle, a green plastic army man that I used to blow up, whistles, first birthday candles and many other strange and diverse items. The most important is the little brown seed.

I suspect that this seed will be my “Rosebud”, and the person that gets it when I die will have no idea of its importance to my life. Right now, it’s a toss up between Ewan and Cohen but maybe, in ten or eleven years I will take them to a beach somewhere and I hope that they can find a little brown seed of their own that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

If they are lucky...


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