We spent so long looking for them, these bargain flip flop sandals from that back wall in Old Navy. This night was probably the most valued they’d ever be, five grown people with much more interesting things to do, scouring a Goa beach at two in the morning, intent on bringing them home, like they were irreplaceable and important.
Even if they weren’t, after two days of dropping acid, it seemed very very important that my sandals come home, preferably on my feet. It was the principle you see, of loss and responsibility. Maybe that’s what I told myself.
They weren’t even new for this trip. They’d graduated from my dorm shower sandals to my travel shower sandals. They’d humbly begun their life being sold on markdown at least four summers before this one, hanging ragged on a mislabeled hook. Yet here we were, trying to retrace our rambling steps along the shore as the tide came in, absolutely certain that we’d find them. See, it wasn’t a huge beach and we’d only stayed in one area, gradually walking down closer to the shore. The sandals had to be behind us, or ahead of us. They were not needles, and either way, it was a small haystack. I’d taken them off when we first arrived, I’d been delirious to see the water at night and paid no attention to where I was when I slipped them off and pushed my feet into the sand.
Anyway, they were a little big and weren’t actually the safest for the showers. I definitely preferred their slippery fit to whatever may be lurking on the cold, outdated tile of the Mary Ward bathrooms. The shower stalls were narrow enough that my elbows always grazed one wall or another, and no matter how much you tried, if you stayed far enough away from touching the walls, you’d inevitably touch the shower curtain. Why did a shared college bathroom even use shower curtains? Granted, our floor was one of the last to be renovated, so maybe that was something that had been changed, but for our floor, those changes didn’t matter. We were still living in the dated, curtained past.
The year I lived at Mary Ward was one of the strangest of my life, but always the bathroom yucked me out the same. I didn’t like thinking about the shower walls and all the people I saw everyday, who I shared them with. I’d look down at my flip flops and probably chipped nail polish. I’d watch beads of water roll down past my knees as I kept my arms close to me. The walls were always cold, no matter how long or hot you ran the water.
We looked for a long time for those sandals. We looked for longer than I thought my friends would want to look. We never found them. It was almost three when we left, and I kept telling myself and Munna that it was fine, I wasn’t littering, someone would find them and need them, my time with them was over. The tide had come in so high.