06 September 2006

California Beaches

I love California. I was born to live in California. Too bad I don't live there now. My husband tells me that if we were to move there, it would be to a cardboard shack. I'm okay with that. When you have the ocean and mountains, what else matters? After a weekend wedding, we spent a couple of days with family on a mini vacation.
Drive up the Pacific Coast Highway with me for a moment. The ocean is on the left in constant motion, crashing and thrashing with dangerous and life-giving vitality. The mist plays peek-a-boo with ships, oil rigs, and islands. The mountains, crumpled up like a blanket on an unmade bed, are on the right. They loom with ancient wisdom but also threaten skittish rock slides at times. They protect like a stalwart from the world on the other side like that wizened and wrinkled grandfather whom you fear but also protrects his family. Surfers speckle the water and Malibu Barbie houses line the shore. Surprisingly, none of the beaches are crowded, even on a labor day weekend. I guess when you have hundreds of miles bordering the long side of a state, there is plenty of sand to go round. We pass organic markets and flower shops and furniture flea markets on the other side. Peak up the streets leading up to mountain villas to get a glimpse of the lives of princes and princesses in their castles. A carnival pops up in the middle of nowhere (where all carnivals pop up) with bright kid colors of teal, cotton candy, and sunshine.
Come now with me to Venice Beach. Shops of flowy clothes, Henna tattoos, piercings of all body parts, and T-shirts run up and down the walk way. Musicians in dreadlocks play, a break dancer with a drug recovery story gathers a crowd, and homeless people wander with their suitcases and shopping carts full of cans and bottles. A large umbrella sits against the grass advertising “Slum Art Skool” with a childlike drawing (and a promise of better quality drawings for donations). We cross over the grass onto the sand, run toward the water until our breaths can’t capture enough oxygen to keep our legs pumping against the sand. To our right, mountains float on the water. To our left, waves crash against the rock jetty. Only a few people are scattered on the sand. Tears build up in our eyes rolling up like the waves in front of us. The ocean expands further than we can imagine, seemingly untouched by the craziness and panics of human existence. The bums and the store owners and the hippie wannabees and the druggies and the tourists disappear behind us. Salt water washes up to our ankles, and our feet sink deeper in the sand. It’s just us and the ocean.


Robin said...


You are in one heckuva state of mind and this post is exquisite! I could see and hear and smell and feel and taste this memory of yours. Truly, a "L'chaim" moment, don't you think?

The beach, the ocean, speak to my soul! I always, ALWAYS thrill to its sight and sound. Thanks for taking me "there" on an otherwise mentally weary day.

tranthegirl said...

why is it that the beach aspires you to such swelling giftedness towards writing-dom?!?! Get thee to a beach, then, straw shack or cardboard box.

willowtree said...

That was an evocative piece of prose, well done.

Without criticising blogs, it was too good for a post, it actually deserves to be in a book somewhere.

Pamela said...

I love the ocean. And the mountains. Your post was a love letter.

(PS. popped over specifically to tell you to rent Man from Snow River.... since you said you'd never watched it. It is a great story)

Heather said...

Thank you all for the complements!
Actually, willowtree, I'm planning on it going in a book.

Margo Carmichael said...

Hi, Heather,

Please email me about a meeting.


Jennifer said...

What a great stream of words. Beautiful.