When I first set out to write this about a week ago, it was going to be all about how I hated the beach. I was going to get all subversive on you, talking about how much I hate sand in my crotch and between my toes, trailing dirt into my car and home that stays there for weeks on end, getting salt water in my hair, and the possibility of being bitten by a jellyfish or a piranha or, obviously, a shark.
But that was all before Tuesday. Tuesday, you see, I took an unscheduled trip to the beach. Two things about that sentence go against almost everything I have stood for in my entire life: “unscheduled,” and, of course, “the beach.”
In addition to all the reasons I just laid out about disliking a trip to the sea, I’m also a planner. I don’t do mid-day unscheduled trips. Just doesn’t happen. There are always too many emails to return, too many blog posts to write, too much possibility of something that I forgot to do cropping up at 2:30 and having to scramble to get it done.
But for some reason, on Tuesday, I decided on a whim to say “fuck it” to all of that, and join a much more carefree and probably much more fun friend of mine on a drive out to Malibu.
As an aside, the trip was buoyed by the fact that I could bring my dog.
Anyway, as soon as we began the journey, I immediately started to feel differently. Nobody would die, I realized, nobody would be harmed, no website would crash due to my decision to get my work done early. As we got closer to the bright and shining Pacific Ocean, my worries began to dwindle even more. And once we rounded the corner from the 10 freeway onto the Pacific Coast Highway, which, if you’ve never done it, is possibly the most beautiful right-hand turn in the country, breaking all of a sudden from a sea of concrete to a spectacular view of the ocean, I decided that nothing I might or might not have done could be as good for my soul as this drive up the coast.
And ladies — this is before I even GOT to the beach.
We went to a small spot of land between massive, famous-people mansions that sit twenty feet back from the water. We were one of about five groups of people there, owing, no doubt, at least in part to the fact that it was a Tuesday afternoon and most people have jobs that require them to be places during the week.
After setting up camp, we wound up staying for close to four hours. And to my amazement, I wasn’t sitting there on the blanket pretending to have a good time, checking my watch periodically to see when a respectable amount of time had passed so that I could later say that I stayed at the beach for, say, two hours or so. I wasn’t thinking about how sandy I was getting, or about how chubby I might look, or about the fact that my legs haven’t been shaved in two months (true story…I also wore pants).
What I did do is this: I read an entire copy of OK! magazine, I walked down the beach with my dog, I chatted with my friend about my break-up, and then I stood and stared out over the ocean. And at that moment, I had the extremely pleasant experience of recalling my first day living in California. I was staying with a friend in Venice and I distinctly recall staring out over the ocean and having a feeling of unending possibility. For the first particularly memorable time since then, and certainly for the first time in recent months, I had the same exact feeling as I stood there on Tuesday.
And so, beach, you have redeemed yourself to me. I will be back. And also, thank you.