On Friday I went towards the coast and got my hair cut at my old stomping grounds, I got about five inches taken off so now my hair stops right at my chin, perfect for the summer. When we headed off to the Zoo yesterday I had to remind myself to put sunblock on the back of my neck because now it’s exposed. But getting past my hair (which truly, I could devote a whole blog entry to) I had a rare opportunity to lolly-gag around the beach Friday afternoon. When I drive that far I try to fit in as many social visits as possible, so I had lunch with John, got my hair cut, and then had coffee with The Ladies. Between the haircut and coffee I had two hours to kill. I did’t feel like calling up my parents and almost everyone I knew was working so I went to the beaches that I spent countless hours at as a child.
There has been a few changes to the shores of one the beaches since I was knocked around in its waves 20 years ago. First off they removed the obstacle of rocks that separated the sandy beach form the water. In the picture you can see light soft sand right past the black top roads, this is where the moms would set up their watch posts when I was a kid. Armed with a large towel for them to bask upon, a straw beach bag of towels-for the soon to be freezing children, a book (hopefully not of the romance novel nature), a cooler with Sunkist drinks-that always were warm by the time you drank them, cut up oranges that burned your sand shredded skin, and of course a sticky bottle of sunblock. From this location they would watch their children be beat up by nature’s strictest baby-sitter (and loving ever minute of it). Right after this haven of hot sand there was a 10-15′ wide belt of gray “smooth” rocks that extended through the shore of the beach, so there was no walking around it you had cross. It was like a payment in pain you had to pay the ocean gods to induldge in their waves. Though the rocks were smooth, my small kid feet would always slide in the crevices between them. No matter how carefully and deliberately you placed your feet, the rocks would either part from your step temporarily and come crashing back, engulfing your foot; or you would step, slightly loose your balance, your ankle would turn, and the side of your foot would dive into the sand laced rocks emerging with red thread-sized lines of blood across the sides of your feet. These small cuts made the first moments of walking in the ocean water particularly intense. But I loved it, I would stay out in the water for hours because there in the water, I felt best-I never wanted to leave.
Now it is a piece of cake to get the water, no payments of pain required, no sizzling rocks to walk across. Just soft sand (which I heard was brought in from Arizona) and water. On Friday I walked down to the shore took pictures, stood in the tide, and let my white skirt get caked with sand. I didn’t care, sand is forgiving and lets go after a little while. I use to find sand everywhere when I was a kid, in my bed, in my clothes, in my dresser, and in Barbie’s hair (who never went to the beach, oddly enough). The tide came in and out, sometimes drenching my skirt and sometimes only tickling my toes. I’m sure the locals thought I was nuts hanging out in the water with a long white skirt-oh well, fuck ’em. 🙂
After a short while I thought it was the time to go, so walked up the hill that now, even in adulthood seems steep. Imagine walking up this hill after three hours of being thrown around in the ocean. You’re cold, your skin stinging from the sand rips that met with the immediate greeting from the ocean water, boogie board drapped over your shoulder, clinging to a towel that keeps on falling of your straight hips, and flip flops sliding off your damp feet and down the walkway. No wonder I never wanted to get out of the water, I was greeted with how mean the land world could be as soon as I exited.
When I got back to my car I realized only about twenty minutes had passed, so I went to the other beach of my late childhood, about 15 minutes south of where I was. I say it is the beach of my late childhood because this is where I went in high school. The beach that I laid on getting tans with girlfriends, the one I ran on for Water Polo practice, the one boys use to take me to so they could kiss me, you know-that one. I sat and read my book for a while watching the locals walk pass, I forget how different the lingo is out there. There is nothing like seeing a business-looking guy say “Dude-yeah!” into his iPhone with a surfboard under his arm.
I sat on the beach and read, popping up my head every so often to look at the ocean or get lost in thought or memories. But this beach had not changed, the shore was still the same place, there was a good ratio of rock to sand placement. It was comforting and I decided I will go to the beach this summer, I might be wearing a million layers, but I will go. Since high school I have been in the ocean swimming, a total of two times. I’m not quite sure what keeps me away, I use to be a fish. Ocean, pool, hot tub-if it was on the schedule you could expect me to be in the water from the moment we arrived and be the last one out. I have walked on the beach quite a few times, played in the surf with John but I haven’t been submerged in the water since the days of hanging out with Mr. Big. I use to say it was the years of Marine Biology that ruined it for me, but I still swam in pools. Now I don’t even swim in pools. Swimming use to be my thing, I wasn’t very good at it, but I loved it and want to try it again. I also don’t go to the beach much considering how close we live to it, but I think it about so much and imagine it so much it feels like I am there all the time. Once a fish, always a fish?
Right now my car has sand sprinkled around its interior, it is so familiar that it almost seems wrong to vacuum it up. I will though, but maybe not until later next week. 😉