Last semester, I rode my bike to the science library to bring an encouraging snack to a friend who was studying Chemistry all night. When I revealed the small assortment of pre-packaged snacks I’d brought in my canvas tote bag, his face reflected unintelligible dismay. He seemed put off by the snacks. I looked down and they were covered in sand, which he told me later he thought had been crumbs in the bottom of my bag. Yes, it was an incredibly sweet assumption and judgement on my personal hygiene. That relationship eroded fairly quickly after that night but surprisingly, the bottom of my canvas tote bag is still sandy. Despite my most diligent efforts to clear my belongings of pervasive sand, it somehow manages to stick around (and I mean stick) in the most inconvenient and unexpected places.
Joel from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind said that sand is overrated: “it’s just tiny little rocks.” When I look at sand, I see tiny rocks and shells, bits of coral, and colorful shapes that look like miniature blown-glass animals. I lie in the sun and as hard as I try to stay relatively clean, when I stand my legs are inevitably coated with a sugary layer of the stuff. Like a donut. But I can’t say how excited I get when, hours after leaving the beach, I run my fingers through my hair and I still manage to find bits of sand still stuck to my scalp. Is it the relief of knowing that I really was at the beach? –as if I needed more self-assurance than my sunburn and dried skin. Maybe it’s elation at finding something on my body that is safely out of the ordinary. What I do know is that I derive pleasure from the pervasiveness of my day’s experiences. My body is affected, be it permanently or not, and I like feeling as if the environment can mold me on a daily basis. Whether those changes are perceived as beautiful or whether they make me look like a homeless bum are up to whoever chooses to pass judgement. But generally, I see change over time as progress in a positive direction. As least I’m not who I was six months ago.
Because really, if you wanted a perfectly clean Snickers bar you could just buy it from the vending machine.