A pair of athletic girls in their late teens came running from behind and easily surpassed the old woman as she walked up the sandy hill. For the girls, there was no struggle. They raced each other as they sprinted up the hill, reveling in, yet blissfully unaware of their youth. Meanwhile, the old woman had to pause often to take deep breaths and work up the strength for few more steps. Slowly, steadily, she reached the top of the hill.
Both journeys up the short hill held their own beauty. One innocent and ephemeral, the other labored and paced, both beautiful, strong, and determined.
As a cargo ship passes underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, its orange red hue temporarily blends in with International Orange. A sailboat decorated with America’s Cup paraphernalia heeds to the ship, carefully avoiding the larger vehicle’s path as it steers toward the wider ocean. Alcatraz and the city skyline are distinct against the clear sky and azure waves tumble in and crash against the rocks that lead to the sea wall.
It’s a luscious day for sure, but not exactly a scene from a stereotypical surfing dream. Still, the water is full of surfers braving the chilly Pacific and the rocky shore to ride the waves. Shivering tourists walk up and gape in awe at them. They’ve probably found that this part of California is colder than they imagined, but the sight of surfers surely lives up to California dreams.
I watch too. Although I’ve seen surfers numerous times, I’ve never seem them this close to shore. I notice how the surfers communicate with each other and with the water. When a wave is coming, they call out to people who can catch it. And when it’s their turn, they ride with grace for as long as possible, turning and sinking back into the water before they reach the rocks. From the shore, it looks like an admirable way to be completely in tune with what’s around you and a perfect balance of power and harmony.
The California coast never leaves a prime location in my heart. It may sometimes be pushed further back by busyness or efforts to see the world, but my fervor for the sight and sound of water rushing toward the jagged edges of the state is always there.
For me, visiting the quiet stretches of California coast between cities is not about getting away, it’s about getting back to myself. The city has a tendency to warp me, sometimes in ways that are simply other sides of me that I haven’t met, but it can also twist me into people that I am not.
But the coast demands honesty as those breezes envelope me and draw out what doesn’t belong and fill that new found space with beauty and contemplation and freshness.
Lately, the coast has been calling me. And soon, I will go.