By Jen Knox
Money was born at the backs of her knees. As a young girl she stumbled, and the coins piled up beneath her heels. It was a neat trick that caused her parents to sing the girl’s praises before making their demands and, ultimately, trying to rip from her what they couldn’t see. When the coins were all used up, they disappeared.
As an older child, she traversed her coastal city with a slanty-headed green toy made of clay that could bend to accommodate any circumstance. This toy, a gift from her late grandmother, taught her to worship asymmetrical things. She saw the world as a splendor of odd shapes and, as she got older, learned to avoid mirrors and people with pretty faces.
She walked the beaches alone as a young adult and wanted nothing. She found a stretch of sand to settle on, but those who shared the land were fierce. They’d steal anything they could from her body and her bags, but they didn’t know what to do with what they stole.
Now with nothing, she slept on the warm sand sober, while those nearby bought things to smoke or imbibe or dissolve on their tongues. As these substances dissolved them in turn, she learned to offer compassion from afar. Knowing about the soft spot at the backs of her knees, she waited ‘til the sun fell and journeyed onward.
On an indigo night, she walked toward a beach that had a sign saying “no textiles,” a term that nudists used to describe the clothed. It seemed a fitting place to camp. The first few nights, she saw too much flesh too fast. After a while, however, she found delight in their awkwardness, the scattershot parts that made up the machines. They were all machines, barely working, but honest about it.
A seeker, she continued to move, until she found an expanse that called to her. Flowers blossomed from the hands of one beach dweller, while another worshiped the water-heavy sand as it fell in clumps from his fingers. Home. She knocked her knees together for the first time in years, filling the hidden corners of the ocean with coins.
At one time, she thought she could be broken like a piggy bank. Her parents and others had cut themselves on her edges. But knowing how to lose it all only to discover there’s nothing to lose, she learned to trade starfish for seashells, and only fleetingly wondered where the coins would surface. At the mouth of the ocean, each night, she created more than the entire world could spend and, as others explored their freedoms and greed, she wished them all well.