In the distance, on the beach, I saw two people walking in separate tight circles, somewhat frantically, a few feet apart, heads down, apparently searching for certain rocks or shells or perhaps the ambiguous meaning of the universe in grains of sand. William Blake said it might be found there.
It was a curious way to search, this odd circling, and a few years ago I might have been mystified by it. Not anymore. It was all quite explainable, thanks to inside information I received from someone who searched in a similar manner.
I moved toward the couple and made out a young man wearing shorts and a tank top and a young woman wearing a hoodie and sweat pants.
It was raining.
There wasn’t another vehicle besides mine for miles around. The couple must have walked to this beach. It would have taken a long time to get there.
I sat down on a driftlog for 20 minutes and watched them search. They haphazardly made their way south. Every once and a while, one of them would pick up something and deposit it in a pocket. They never once looked at the ocean. Can you imagine visiting the ocean and not looking at the ocean?
Years ago, I met someone on the Oregon Coast who explained to me what this ostensibly weird searching was all about. She (June) was a lively, lascivious and debased character straight out of a Henry Miller tale had Henry Miller ever populated his stories with characters from the Oregon Coast. She rated as a sort of a siren, but also quasi rapper who wrote quasi lines of poetry. Some of them were pretty damn good. One even used the word “tantric.”
She was also a methamphetamine and heroin addict and her larger story would make a great Henry Miller-type book. I might even write it one day. There would be zero redemption in it.
Here’s what she told me one day: when she was high on meth, she would collect agates on the beach, in precisely the same frantic manner I observed in the couple. I was dumbfounded. People on meth go out and beach comb? Yes, she said. You have to do something. She even gave me some of her meth agates as proof.
I have seen similar searching/walking beach patterns about a half dozen times since I received the inside information. I’ve seen meth people attempt to clam and try to fish from the South Jetty on the Columbia River. They always move in the same way. They are always dressed the same. They are always the same age.
Preposterous? I don’t think so. It was too unbelievable an explanation not to be true and I got straight from the meth source.
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