I am a friend to the sand, to the swath of washed up coquina shells, to my long shadow that stretches down the beach towards the ocean. I am a friend to my notebook pages that flap in the sea breeze, to the bright orange swim shirt my son wears, to the jagged choppy waves.
I am a friend to my mom’s red-strapped canvas L.L. Bean bag that says Mamma S? The single letter after Mamma is worn off — I’m not sure if it was a B for her first name, an S for her last name, or something else. I am a friend to the red folding nylon chair I sit in, with its mesh cup holder for my phone, and its carrying bag with a strap I can put over my shoulder to tote it hands-free when we go back to the car and I need my fingers for flip-flops and fun noodles.
I am a friend to the bubbles the Atlantic makes as wave remnants swash up the beach on their journey across great distance: they’ve travelled to the edge of the sea. I am a friend to the white froth of the crashing waves, the green-brown-blue water of the Georgia coast.
I am a friend to the dead reeds washed ashore, to the sand castles made from carefully dumped buckets, to the cobalt blue shovel and the hot pink plastic pail. I am a friend to my son’s black soccer slides, my daughter’s watermelon flip-flops, and my brown leather Rainbow sandals with the braided straps.
I am a friend to this olive green surf skirt with pockets for my phone and car keys, this skirt that has been with me to Hawaii, Tybee, Anna Maria, Sarasota, the Outer Banks, Mexico, Claytor Lake, that has covered bathing suits and birthday suits, that has faded and needs to be retired but I can’t bear to let it go.
I am a friend to the black hairband on my wrist, to the gray cap on my head that contains flyaways when the wind is blowing and I want to focus on writing instead of pulling strands of hair out of my eyes and mouth.
I am a friend to the white wisps of cirrus clouds high in the dome of the atmosphere. I am a friend to the teal of the evening sky, the tan of the beach, the shell pink of my toenail polish. I am a friend to the black ink that gives form to my thoughts on these white, blue-lined pages.
This was a 10-minute free write inspired by Natalie Goldberg’s prompt to list inanimate objects in response to the phrase, “I am a friend to…” The intention is to pull us outside of ourselves, to wake us to our surroundings and help us pay attention. The angle of the prompt — “I am a friend to” — also helped me have gratitude for these simple, beautiful things that I might otherwise just observe (or not observe) and move on with my life.