Imagine a beach, the exotic kind in Costa Rica or the Bahamas. It’s always warm, every day of the year. The sand is a perfect golden of Rapunzel’s hair. Azure waves, clear enough to see the exotic fish and colorful plants below, lap on the shore. The only rocks that disturb the sand are smooth, gray-toned ones, the kind that would be used for a hot rock treatment in a spa. Palm trees sway lazily, while round, caramel-colored coconuts hang from them, ripe for the picking. And the sunset is like orderly stripes of paint in red, orange, and yellow.
This is nothing like my beach.
At my beach, it is freezing in the winter and broiling in the summer. The sand is the pale tan of a redhead who has spent too much time inside. The waves, azure? No. They’re a gray scale when the sky is cloudy, and a belligerent blue when there’s sun. The only fish you’d find are minnows, who dart away frantically as soon as you step in the water. As for plant life: seaweed, seaweed, and more seaweed. Rocks absolutely cover the beach, different ones, big, small, round, flat, and in incredibly different hues. And I laugh at the thought of palm trees. There aren’t any trees on my beach, just hardy, any-weather beach grass and the aforementioned seaweed. The sunset is far from orderly. It looks like a giant mixed a bucket of all colors of the rainbow and threw it across the sky like a regular Jackson Pollock.
It’s the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. It’s only a stone’s throw away from my house — literally. We live on a bluff overlooking the bay, and we can walk there any time we please.
I can’t remember a time without it. In fact, I don’t think there was one. When I was six, I loved drawing animals, and my dream was to hold a monopoly on the animal-drawing-selling business. I took a few of my drawings and ran down to the beach, my mother in hurried tow. She persuaded me to go up to an older lady and ask her if she wanted to buy one. And I made a profit of exactly a dollar for a drawing of a bird that may or may not have been a duck.
When I was ten, five of my friends and I picked up litter there, but we didn’t throw it away like good little girls. We built a tiny sea shack with it. One side was a tall fence that separated the hills from the beach. The other three sides were made of rocks and unidentified mesh-y stuff that was half-buried in the sand. The floor was sand, smoothed quite professionally by six pairs of children’s hands, but it was littered with rocks we couldn’t quite pull up. That was why we all took turns sitting on a ripped cushion, possibly belonging to a boat, that had been hidden in the grass. The roof had four large pieces of driftwood for beams, and a woven beach grass roof that had taken us ages to build. It was tiny, it was uncomfortable, and it was amazing.
A few days later, I walked down to the beach to see it again. But no remnants of it remained, except that ripped cushion, and a few pieces of beach grass sticking around. But so is the way of the beach — things come and go, but it’s never dull. There’s always more waiting in the sand and the water.
Just yesterday, I went down there with my dog. The cold March air was making me anxious to go back inside, but my dog didn’t look like she would be done any time soon. I noticed I had the beach to myself. That was my favorite time, if it was getting dark and still wintery, and no one came down except for me. I looked around for something to do. A little boat, barely bigger than a car, was puttering along halfway into the bay. I could see two dark figures on it, silhouetted against the sun, driving. It looked serene. And at that moment, I found myself wanting to stay. I cleared a space between the rocks and called my dog over. We sat and watched the little boat drive across the water. We stayed sitting there, until the Jackson Pollock sunset came out and we had to get dinner.