There's just something about salt air.
Each breath in is a promise, each exhale a freedom. Brine mixes with the sort of sunshine you only find next to the ocean, and with every lungful, I feel new. But there is a familiarity there. A comfort. Salt air always tastes the same, no matter how long it's been since you breathed it last.
I walk toward the waning sun, next to my sister and behind my mother. Translucent jellyfish who long ago gave up the ghost dot the beach that stretches in front of me. They catch the light, looking like delicate soap bubbles that have yet to burst. Miniscule shells crunch beneath my bare feet, their textured sides mingling with the puttylike consistency of the wet sand that tickles my toes. Above, a bright red kite soars in the blue, blue sky, the cherry on top of the sundae that is today.
My sister and I share the same stride, our feet striking the sand in tandem. We talk, pull faces, and execute overwrought leaps (a halfhearted attempt to recall the days when we used to dance) that cause us both to double over in laughter. She points out dogs and wishes they would come closer so that she could pet them. I dart into the cold waves, shrieking each time the tide envelops my toes. Our wind-tossed hair mingles as we walk. Her brown strands are darker than mine, but the texture is the same.
Time has passed since we were last together, but us? We are the same. We pick up right where we left off. We are a beloved book that has been shelved whose story is instantly familiar the moment it is opened again.
My sister squints against the sun and looks forward at our mother, who is slowly becoming smaller and smaller as she moves away from us.
"Let's catch up to Mom."
I nod. I take in a deep breath. There's just something about salt air. Each breath in is a renewal, each exhale a declaration.
And I run, exhaling and screaming and giggling and whooping like I'm six again. And my sister is right beside me, our feet striking the sand in tandem, our breaths mixed with bursts of laughter.
We close the gap. We reach my mother at the same time.