I had never seen an abalone shell up close until I moved to California. I had heard of them often on SCUBA diving excursions from friends who had been to the reefs near Australia. I had never been and always imagined the shells to have a magical quality and a luminescence that could light up the ocean. In my first apartment in San Francisco, my first week there, my neighbor showed me a cooler full of abalone he and his brother had retrieved on a diving trip. "You're not supposed to do that," his wife chimed in. They were not at all what I imagined. The outside was rough and looked like any other large shells I had seen in Sheepshead Bay (yes I actually used to dive there. My New York friends will know how weird that is). Once they were opened and cleaned was the magic revealed. They were spectacular. Years later, the Dude and I would buy our first house together in a neighborhood on the other side of the city. As we settled in and examined the garden beds, we would find a single abalone shell. We kept it, along with a few other items that were left in the garden. A terracotta elephant, and small bunny statue made of cement.When we moved again, this time to Marin, we would find once again in our garden, abalone. This time there were about 5 or 6 shells ranging in size and color. We have kept them and now they live at the feet of a Buddha statue, that was also left to us by the home's previous owner. I was curious to know what abalone symbolize and was interested to learn that they are believed to carry protection and emotional balance. Abalone are thought to contain all of the ocean and the strength of the waters will tame the fires of one's emotional life. Neat.

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