October 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
When I lived in California, the beach was a pilgrimage to the closest thing to god I’ve ever actually believed in. The morning waves rolling in on Del Mar at even intervals over a foggy sunrise. The tide lifting the rocks and smashing them in a chaotic jumble at La Jolla cove. We’d spend hours in front of waves and fires, staring off into our own thoughts, the surf an active backdrop to passive contemplation.
The northern California coast was even more of a beast to be wary of. Cold and unpredictable, heavy with mist and moss. It good place to feel the weight of a vast landscape.
I remember surfing and boogie boarding, beach parties and shenanigans, of course, but when I get a whiff of salty ocean air or get in the car to the ocean on the holidays, it’s the landscapes and the crashing waves, the majesty of the open ocean that are most poignant in my mind, that elicit the most emotion.
The Jersey Shore is decidedly not that place. (Surprise!)
Minus a few undeveloped beaches, it’s pockmarked with boardwalks, pavement, and oceanfront property, encroaching on the sand and waves, preying on it’s lessons of openness with, at best noisy revelry, and at worst utilitarian profiteering. It all kind of feels like making a lion sit in a cage dressed as a clown whilst teenage boys throw popcorn at it. The sand feels the same, the ocean a bit warmer, the waves are rolling in. But it’s hard to leave the surroundings out of the picture – built, everything around you, built up, boxing the wilderness out.
I had almost given up on my good friend the thoughtful-beach-pilgrimage until I went to Sea Isle City this weekend. It was unusually warm, and almost completely empty given that it’s October.
I had my sunglasses on, back to the ocean floor… Slowly rolled up with a cresting wave, and then back down…
I’ve considered the possibility that maybe my problem is I don’t like people as often as I thought. Perhaps the mental-escapism function is broken in my brain, or maybe the nostalgia part is overactive. Either way, it’s nice to have discovered a place where I can worship the ocean gods in peace.