10 September 2008

Beach Town Brat

The downside of living in a beach town is that you are always at the beach. While this sounds like a paradox, for an east coast winter weather resident, there are particular joys associated with leaving home and heading to a beach. In the depths of winter, when you have been chilled fully through to the bone and wonder if you might ever again be warm, a holiday to a tropical place is Nirvana. For me, there was an indescribable jolt of joy at that moment when stepping off a plane, usually onto one of those rickety aluminum staircases, to feel that blanket of steamy air envelope your body, shocking in its torpor, with that simultaneous thrill of knowing you have left behind the cold and stress and tedium of the every day and landed on vacation at last. For me, the only reward of living in a cold weather climate, besides that phenomenal first flush of spring, is the leaving, and also the always welcome first days of summer. That moment you open your windows to capture the breeze and banish that stale overheated winter air. But it isn't only in winter when leaving is a delight. We spent many joyous holidays on Cape Cod and there is nothing equal to the thrill of crossing the bridge as that salty clean air fills your lungs and you know, once again, you are on holiday, in a totally different place, albeit familiar. A place that resonates with summer. For some, it's a lake that shimmers in the sunlight. A cabin in the woods, screen doors slamming all day and the nearly deafening sound of crickets at night. A bungalow on a secluded beach on an exotic island. An old-world hotel sitting on a hill in a secluded small town where the pleasure of the day is measured by tanned faces at dinner. Where sleep nearly overwhelms the body, eclipsing all sense and sound with the exception of that delicious flutter of moist night air through an open window. Ah, vacations in the warm. I have never been a winter weather vacationer, no skiing for me, but I suspect, beyond the difference in temperature, that the thrill of the familiar in an otherwise unfamiliar place is the essence of holiday no matter the climate. All wonderful and all the more wonderful because it is different. Away from the every day, not matter how wonderful. Okay, I'm a brat.
Understand please that living in a beach town is a gift and I know this. I see that fantastically ubiquitous Pacific every day, and delight in cool sea breezes blowing through the night. I can walk to the beach, even for a moment in the middle of the work-day, when the intensity is a bit too much, and that soothing sense of being that one can only find at the beach is always within reach. So wonderful. However, by virtue of its constancy, the beach town loses distinction. Hard to imagine why one would want to get away, and yet even the best in high doses can lose its glow. So, I’ve planned a holiday to Mexico with my daughters and even though that western coast offers not much more than what I have right here in Laguna Beach, when I get off the plane, I will be somewhere else, with different sights and scents and sensibilities. The sand might feel different, the scent of the sea perhaps more or less, and I might happily while away an afternoon at the hotel pool, my nose buried in a book, occasionally dipping my toes into cool water that is perpetually refreshed. Pools are a different feeling entirely, a vacation feeling. The beach is organic, connected to earth and sky, strengthened by the undulation of ocean waters and punctuated by the natural cushion of a billions of grains of sand. Pools are man-made and no matter their irregular edges or infinity shapes, they are an artifice, and as such, a distinct change of scene for a girl from a beach town. I will look forward to lounging there and enjoying the sounds and flavors of our southern neighbor, with the distinct pleasure of knowing that I will return to my beautiful little beach town refreshed and always grateful. How blessed are we, always to return to this place by the sea.

1 comment:

  1. The beach is truly a part of our blood. To be away from is a yearning like hunger , without it, a craving.

    Much like being long absent from good friends.

    Keep writing...