It’s been a strange weekend. I feel like I didn’t do anything, but on Saturday I went to the bluffs north of Cayucos and today I hiked to an overlook that showed off the central coastline from the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes to past Avila Beach. It seems like there are times in life when it’s harder to see the world for what it is, when a day spent in the sun is lost to the thoughts that take up space in the dark. I’m not sure, I just feel a little off.
Like some weird sad serenity took over me, until the wind brought the dank air from the bay to shore to wake me up, to snap me into existence. To force me into looking at the strange bluffs. They were dry and cracked with brittle grass and gopher holes, like at any moment the ground would split in two and half would melt away into the surf that stretches blue forever. It’s like the desert tried to meet a mountain meadow, but the grass got stuck in the ocean’s salt and the sky forgot to rain.
The water stank like rotting sea: salt, plants, fish, and invertebrates, constantly churning up the mess it tried to leave on the beach. Red and black crabs the size of my fist ran from my footsteps and I shrieked and jumped to a higher point at the sight of them. Their claws up as they scuttled between the cracks and the water. Cormorants gathered a ways out, the rock they collected on white with what they left behind. The beach was quiet, far from the crowds of Morro Bay and Pismo Beach. It was pebbly and full of hermit crab shells, the surf was quiet and groves of seaweed made red and brown shapes in the bay.
And I thought about what I don’t know, I can’t recall, but I know it was important, important enough to consume my energy as I watched my dog chase rocks and cover his slobbering lips with little pebbles, oblivious to the way it might feel in his belly. I realized that I like taking little jaunts to new places, away from my house and away from the crowd of people’s whose only goal on Saturday was to escape the inland heat by going to the beach.
I enjoy the solitude and the sounds that pull me into the reality of what’s around me. To be able to feel the pebbles on my bare feet and see the shells built into the sediment that fell from the cliffs to the high tide line. To relax and not have to worry about how my dog will interact with humans and their animals, so he can relax and run around without hearing me call his name to behave.
The serenity of a moment is like a lapse in the movement of time. Where it doesn’t stop, but for just a little while it becomes unimportant. Where you are, what you’re doing, what everyone else is doing, the constant comparisons and mile-a-minute movement of my brain just fades away into the sounds of water and dog feet digging up sand, the little pebbles I wipe off my bare feet, and the woman from Nevada who just wanted to chat while she picked up hermit crab shells. Is that not just as important as everything else? And yet, I haven’t thought about the moment until now. And I only think of it because I want to transcribe it. To record it because it helped me see something I didn’t see at the time.
Will it propel me forward into the great unknown of future accomplishments? Who knows, probably not. But how can an interaction so small, lively, and cordial not be important. It doesn’t affect me today, as I dropped back into the same train of thoughts I can’t quite remember the content of. I do know I feel sad, but for that moment on the beach, I was not sad, but pleasantly content.
Kind of like how I felt when I hiked the peak today, and last Thursday when I scrambled down to the beach to just miss the sunset, but to catch the lights of Pismo Beach come on, and give the dog some stick time on the almost empty part of the beach where the sand becomes dunes. It’s easy because I don’t have to think, because I can just be me and be where I am without that constant nag of my brain.
It’s not that I’m sad so much as I long for a friendship that I don’t have to work for, one where I can be myself and we can walk as ourselves together, without trying to be something different than we are. I think, honestly that’s what my life is missing right now, a solid friendship, because a phone call can only do so much, and I can’t take the beach or the ocean home with me.