The beach. Most people look forward to going to it as a vacation, a break from the daily stresses of life. Teenagers think of it as the break they may get after finals, free from the imprisonment of worry. However, my mental image of the beach may be different than others. I do not go to the main hotspots on the east coast like Hilton Head or Tybee Island. Although the island I go to is large, almost 16 miles long to be exact, it is the polar opposite of the commercial feel received from the most popular beaches. Picture the isolation of a house on top of a private mountain or a long road with nothing around it for miles. That is how my beach feels for me. Even though there are a bunch of beach houses, there aren’t massive malls, skyscrapers, or schools. This is why my beach is significant to me, and why it is my home, my heaven compared to the stresses of normal life. For me, the beach has served as an almost spiritual place throughout my life, and I look back to certain memories of it in times of distress.
Close your eyes. Imagine the most picturesque sunset, slowly descending over the horizon. No clouds are blocking the sun, and it has an orange and yellow glow that almost demands you to stare at it. Now imagine a long, flat road, divided by two yellow lines for as far as the eye can see. Houses border the street, and the beach lies to the east as the sound lies to the west. There are no car horns. On this road, the aforementioned sunset glows in front of you, and you feel as if you are walking into it. You are riding a small skateboard along this road, and the only sound you can hear is the rolling of the wheels on the street. The ever-so-often kick of your leg propels you further down this street, closer to the sunset. You are free of worry and regret, and have never felt a more internal calm in your life.
That is my island, or beach, whatever you would like to call it. It is in that moment I described that I have realized the true beauty of life, and been taught the greatest lessons. Riding my skateboard down this everlasting street, I have set my goals, and appreciated what I have already accomplished. Once a year, for only one week, seven days, after a day of surfing and bodyboarding, I get to ride my skateboard. I don’t talk to anyone, don’t speak a word, don’t shake my head, and don’t check my social media. I NEVER bring my phone on these mental escapes. Sometimes I will be gone for the thirty minutes, sometimes I will be gone for two hours, as my bare feet are dirtied by the asphalt. These periods of release have been a ritual for me over the last four years at the beach. This is the memory I go back to when I need to calm down, or I feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Cruising down the street, I am free of the pressures of trying to make the varsity soccer team or a high-level club soccer team. There are no coaches screaming at me, no brutal workouts in the summer sun where I am unable to utter a single word, all I can do is wheeze. I am meditating in my own separate world, and nothing can stop me.
I think about how grateful I am for my family, and the splendid house and area I am able to live and be educated in. I think about how, when I am old, and have done all there is to do in life, if I will be riding, maybe just walking down this road, remembering what I did as a kid.
Now, sitting in my house, far away from my own picturesque place, I can only sigh and long for my return to it. The road, the sunset, the silence, all seems so distant. The hundreds of thousands of people, numerous construction sites, and the terrible little dogs that constantly bark make me last for the beach. Someday, one day, I’ll return. But until then, I can only dream.