and summers on a whale-shaped island
When I was young, we lived on an island that always smelled like salt. When we lived there I always smelled like salt. Every other shop all the way down the island sold surfboards, and every restaurant had a “No shirt, No shoes, No service” sign on the door.
No matter what shop you walked into, you could bet that they sold postcards. They were displayed on spinning, wire racks that squeaked when you turned them and were much taller than me. I remember wearing plastic flip-flops and reaching out my sun-browned arm to pick up a picture postcard of the aerial view of the island.
I ran with the postcard to my mom. “Look!” I said. And we both laughed as we looked at the picture. We’d never realized that the island was shaped like a whale blowing water out of its spout.
I loved that it looked like a whale. That’s the fact I would start with when people asked me where I lived.
Then I’d tell them about how there were concrete paths that stretched through sandy woods from my house past my friend’s house to the church we went to. Along the way, there was an ice cream shop that sold saltwater taffy from a sprawling collection of tubs in the middle of the store. They sold postcards, of course, and near-impossible-to-solve puzzles. Before every hurricane season we would buy a couple more of these puzzles for the exact reason that they took a very long time to solve (if you could solve them at all) and they could be done by candlelight. There was one with a bunch of little men you had to fit into a life raft and another that was just nine squares, but each side of each square had half of a different butterfly on it, and you had to figure out how to put it together to make the halves match.
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