This was one of the best days I have had in a long time.
by Amannda DeBoef
This was one of the best days I have had in a long time. My cousin, Steve, chauffeured my great-aunt, Ruth, my mother, Gail, and his girlfriend, Lea, on the most gorgeous drive from Granada Hills, just outside of Los Angeles to the San Buenaventura State Beach located in Ventura, California. The very locale Tom Petty wrote about in his classic rock song, ‘Free Fallin’. (My absolute favorite).
Being from southwest Missouri with fair skin and blue eyes, I am admittedly, more of a mountain girl than a beach girl (one day later and my beet red shoulders and chest will attest to that). However, the Southern California landscape is positively breathtaking. There are trees and flowers in every color imaginable. Just when I thought I had seen it all, another version of a colorful California native tree, bush, plant, flower, or succulent would ‘WOW’ me more than those I had seen previously.
The walk along the beach at San Buenaventura was at least 20 degrees cooler than in the city. The fresh, breezy air smelled of salt water and sunscreen. Kids played in the ocean waves. Children dug sandcastles and completed works of art on the sandy beaches. Adults rode bikes and jogged on the boardwalk that runs along the beachfront. There were dogs of every shape, size, and breed enjoying this picture-perfect summer day.
My mother made friends with two very social St. Bernard’s we met while walking the clean and tidy sidewalks next to the beach. The younger of the two dogs practically knocked my mother over when she invited them to come say, ‘Hello’. The owner was nearly as friendly as his two large companions.
We ate at a tasty ocean-side restaurant called Social House. I had a lavender lemon-drop that was positively divine, along with a fish sandwich that certainly satisfied my fully grown appetite.
I think I get it now. The wet sand. The calming sound of the waves rolling onto the shore. The distant laughter of children with not a care in the world. The sights and sounds that only a beachfront view can afford.
I saw a young girl lounging on a bench on the pier, reading a novel. I wanted to be that girl.
I saw several people biking down the boardwalk, taking in the entertaining sights and sounds of what can only be described as, ‘A Happy Place’. I wanted to be those cyclists.
I saw a friendly man walking his two large dogs. Stopping for nearly every passer-by to let them pet said dogs and engage in at least a 20-minute conversation. (That man must have a ton of friends).
I loved it all. I understand now. Why people move from the only home they have ever known. Why folks battle ridiculous city traffic day in and day out. Why young adults decide to ‘head west’ to see what the fuss is all about. While this western life may not be for me, those few minutes of beachfront, ocean wave, seagull-cawing time in the sand was truly invigorating, relaxing, therapeutic, and downright blissful. I get it now. I really do.
The mountains may call to my soul, but the beach. It truly has a magic all its own. I will be back. I cannot bear to say a final goodbye to such a timeless, faithful friend. The tides will one day lure me back to the shore. And I will come armed with a book, a bike, a dog, or simply a hat to shield my face, and a great appreciation for one of God’s most beautiful gifts this side of Heaven.