I have never known anything aside from the beach. It was my backyard when I was little, it was my respite when I was an angsty teen, and it has been the one constant that I have had in the background, regardless of where I lived, for my entire life. I think the beach, the ocean, and just the coast in general means different things to different people, but it will forever represent something greater than itself, at least to me.
The beach is a place where people come to relax and seek respite from their worries, and I am no exception.
The second I was old enough to drive (and fortunate enough to have my own car), I started going to the beach anytime I had a bad day. Actually, that's not true; I started going to the beach whether the day was bad or good, because I found myself inexplicably drawn to it for no apparent reason. Anytime I had a moment of downtime, I was at the beach. Not to say that I was in the ocean catching waves or skateboarding or doing anything remotely cool.
I would go to the beach for different reasons. I would sit on the low wall of the Esplanade, overlooking the gentle curve of the South Bay, and write in my journal.
I would get ice cream and French fries with my friend, Bryce, and sit in the car while we watched the sunset and sang Moulin Rouge and Jason Mraz at the top of our lungs. I would have dance parties with my girlfriends at night on the sidewalk while we shook and shimmied and came very close to peeing our pants from laughing so hard. I would bring slices of cheese pizza down to the sand just to eat while the waves danced and the seagulls sang in the background.
The beach, and more specifically, the beaches of the South Bay, became my haven and my happy place and most importantly, a place that I could call my own.
Growing up, for whatever reason, I was the only beach-obsessed person in my gaggle of friends. So I took ownership of it in a way that made me feel like I was special or unique in that regard. Never mind that the beach is a pretty popular destination, both for tourists and locals alike, but I felt like my reverence of it made me stand out from others. I loved taking photos of the waves, the sand, the lifeguard towers, and my Rainbow sandals poking out of the shoreline. I told anyone I met about my hometown, the South Bay..."No, not the "Bay" like San Francisco"...and told stories about Rat Beach, Topaz, the Esplanade, and walks on the Strand. I shared tales of my parents' tiny beach apartment at 35th Street in the late 70's and 80's and how they spent one summer hanging out with Joe Montana, the relatively unknown backup quarterback for the Niners at the time.
Without realizing it, the beach was the constant I needed in my life, for a multitude of reasons.
My parents' divorce when I was eight. The death of my grandfather, two aunts, and my mom's best friend, all within the span of two years. I needed something that wasn't going to change or disappear or go away, something that was special and unique to me, and something that I could share my love of with others. I could never do it justice or explain it any better than I have in this blog post, but now you know why I'm a beach girl, through and through, and why I will never leave, no matter where the future takes me.