California came two weeks after a miserable break up.
I was devastated, heartbroken and exhausted.
Nothing was fitting clearly in my mind between the constant flow of excuses and reasons creeping in the corners of my brain and I was ready to jump in the ocean and let the waves carry me wherever they thought I should go.
I would drive to the ocean and walk the coast for miles, humming songs that filled my heart and dancing if only to leave beautifully intricate patterns in the sand.
Wind whipped my hair constantly and the waves would crash around my ankles as I hopped frantically out of the freezing water.
As I walked the beach, I would find pieces of broken shells everywhere. Soon, I found cracked sand dollars every few steps. The farther I would go, the more whole the sand dollars would become.
But I couldn’t find one that was whole.
Ironic, I thought to myself, the broken girl stumbles across all of the chipped and cracked sand dollars, never finding a whole one because she’ll never feel that way again.
On one of my last trips to the beach, I remember sitting in the sand, digging my toes as far as I could into the earth and covering my legs until a mini sand castle kept me warm.
I ran my hands through patterns upon patterns, the sand felt so good running through my fingers.
I came across this sand dollar that was 90% whole and I held it in my hands. I spoke aloud to the universe and I said “If I can find one whole sand dollar, please let that be a sign that everything is going to be okay.”
I can’t tell you how stupid I felt saying this to the ocean. However, I had complete confidence in those words and so I said them aloud a few more times, begging for the universe to show me that eventually I would be okay.
I walked for miles down the shore and found one more sand dollar that was not quite whole and I smiled. Maybe this was it. A sign that even though this sand dollar was chipped, it was beautiful. I told myself that this is what I would find.
Still, I kept walking along the ocean.
Not even a minute later, I spotted another white circle buried in waves.
I remember this moment clear as day.
I gasped and ran to it, gently lifting it from the wet sand and washing it in the next crest that came to shore.
It was whole.
The happiness that swelled inside me brought tears to my eyes and I remember laughing by myself in the middle of the beach with the ocean right by my side.
That’s it, I thought, I will be whole again.
And it’s so strange that I needed the universe to tell me that I would be okay, but it did. Every trip to the beach after that never led me to another whole sand dollar.
It was my sign.
And maybe I made the entire coincidence up in my head in order to find the fight within me that I needed to heal.
But it worked.
I still have that sand dollar in my room, telling me that feeling whole is a process. I kept the broken one too if only to remind me that imperfection is still beautiful.