A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.
– Joan Didion
Regular readers of my blog know that I am always in search of finding my Inner Chingona — inner peace if you will. Sometimes it is much easier to find myself, or better yet, hear myself in certain places. Day 2 of Today’s Writing 101 Challenge is to describe such a place…
The most relaxing places for me are always around the water. Crazy since I never learned to swim! Water feels so cool, cool water that refreshes instantly upon touch. When it’s hot outside, running my hands through water, splashing it onto my face, throwing my shoes off to put my feet into the water, love it!
A few years ago, I had just moved back to California and was going through an incredibly stressful time readjusting and read that getting out in nature would settle my nerves and relax me. I remembered from my time in Colorado that the views were so incredible. I used to say that it was hard to have a bad attitude when surrounded by beautiful scenery. As I drove, I would look up and see the awesome snow-capped Rocky Mountains daily and my attitude would be placed in check.
Upon returning to California, I had still not found anything in nature that had the same effect on me as Colorado had. So one day I was working and decided that I had to get out of the office for a while. I wanted to find nature so I looked online and found that there was a beach close by. Ok, so how to get there? Public transportation was not an option as I only had a limited amount of time. Driving there? I was nervous as I hadn’t been in San Francisco that long and to get in the car and drive across the city in the middle of the day was daunting. Especially in the beginning, as I seemed to get lost, really lost, every time I got into the car.
But off into the car I went, directions in hand, both hands on the wheel, and excited as I started this new adventure. Although there was really only one way to head to the beach, I went off of my directions so that I wouldn’t get lost. Finally, I see the sign with an arrow pointing toward the beach. It was a long street to the beach and, every time I got to a stop sign or stoplight, I would think to myself, ‘am I going the right way?’ At one of the stop lights, as I look up, and I think I see the beach. As I’d never driven toward a beach, I didn’t know what to look for. I was still far enough away that it was like I was looking into an illusion. What did I see? It looked like the blue sky and the water merged to form this awesome blue wall. I remember saying, ‘wow’ and could feel my heart pounding as I got closer and closer.
I could now smell the beach air and could see the waves moving back and forth as I drove closer to the beach. You better know that I wanted to jump out of that car and run to the water but there was so much traffic. Finally, I get to the beach, park the car, and realize that I am so not dressed for the beach and had no towels, blankets, or anything to sit on but I did find a book, some chanclas/flipflops, and my music — threw it all into a bag and walked onto the warm, dry, sand toward the water. The sand was so heavy that I couldn’t run it at first. Once I got close to the water, I threw my bag down and, once I felt the water flow over my feet, I was instantly calmed. I stood there for a very long time letting the waves soothe my feet, my nerves, my stress, and my bad attitude. The sound of the waves began to lull me into a pleasant trance as well and wouldn’t you know it? I could actually hear myself THINK!
After sitting there for a while, I decided to go for a walk before heading back to the office. I put the music on and off I went, as I looked back, my car was farther and farther away and I was having the time of my life. After walking and walking, I turned back toward the car and was amazed to see that I had walked really far and the time had passed, so much so, that it looked like the sun was going down!
I got to witness an incredible sunset on the beach that day and, by the time I got back into my car, my attitude had completely adjusted, I was calm, relaxed, and ready to finish my work projects before I left for home that night. On this day, I lost one of my chanclas and found my inner Chingona for the first time. I remember making a promise to myself as I drove back into the City, that I would visit the Beach as much as possible. I now have a bunch of places I love to walk near the water but this beach remains one of my favorites because it was the first of many escapes — OCEAN BEACH in San Francisco…