It’s summer, it’s Spain, it’s beautiful. It’s so damn familiar too; I guess all the times I've spent previously in this very spot, when I was ever so much younger, have rubbed off onto the bricks themselves, in this place. It is beautiful, this air. It was strange, stepping of the plane here, especially since I was doing it alone for the first time. The air itself is warmer, like Spain is breathing all over me. Cars and bikes vibrate in waves down the street. The open window wafts the scent of fresh bread, across the air from the red sets of diners at the café below. Dim light glows over them. Red flowers sit in a bucket by the neighboring window. My reflection is all golden back and shoulder skin, hair in fairy floss waves up off my neck. Spain is making me restless, in good ways. I feel alive – properly so – because I feel like there is beauty here, and purpose here, and familiarity here, just in the walls even. I feel I belong, in some way, to this place. It is family, and childhood, and warm evening air. It's a language I'm slowly beginning to understand.
All kinds of comforting food smells, warm smells, surround me. Bottle green potted plants hang above me. A blue pool and a blazing hot sun. Boys who wear dark glasses inside, play football in the hallway, who smile and have caramel tans. This pull of sensations. This pull of atmosphere. The way the past moves. As soon as I could, I fought my eyes from subject to subject, from path and stone to the beat of a pigeon cloud, rising through the dense midday heat. I follow the beach goers who wander there slowly in the early afternoon, and hear a band playing in the distance. On trips, as in life, you can plan as much as you like. You can plan where you'll go, what you'll do, who you'll meet, what you eat. You can plan for things to go according to plan, or you can plan for things to do no such thing. Today, though, there was no way I could have planned to approach a huge speaker blasting dance music as I was arriving the beach. A man in a suit, a dapper man, danced a jazz step over and again, waiting for the walker to beam green through the humming night-time crowd and the slice of dry road between us and them. As he walked, he swayed and lifted his elbows in time with the fading tune. I wanted to dance his dance, even just for a few seconds. There was no way either of us could have planned for, without even a word, the people around us to simultaneously burst out into dance, to sway with that music at once... under the sun, huge smiles on their faces. There was no way we could have planned for that crowd to form, either. These are the things that breathe pure life into every experience. The things you plan for may happen... or they may not. That's not the stuff that's truly going to make its mark on you.
I’m seeing extremely high blue skies, and breezes that are soft and gentle. I’m seeing boys and men without shirts and barefoot, wearing shorts you can swim in and hats, deep tans. I’m picking up the smell of mango in the air and eating a lot. I’m in the house that I left, so many years ago, before everything was turned sideways and upside down. Before I went to high school and navigated that new land, before I met my friends, before this blog ever existed, before presumptions, before exams, before unprecedented creativity, before life became hectic and complicated. I'm staying with my aunt and uncle and my cousins and I'm having a great time.
My feet take me along the street and across the road and eventually land in soft, white, powdery sand. My toes sink in, my shoulders drop, and my entire body relaxes. I look out onto the horizon of tumbling waves. They are calm, gentle, and scarce of human interaction. In less than an hour this beach will be packed, but for now the cool, gentle breeze caresses my cheeks and I let out a deep breath. I stretch out a towel and position my body perpendicular to the ground, and reach for the notepad from the depths of my bag. At first I don’t write, I only think. Then the words come pouring onto the paper like wildfire. The overwhelming feeling to write always comes to me in times of change. I feel it welling within, and there never seem to be a lack of words for my emotions.
I only stop to fuel my inspiration by taking long stares at the gorgeous ocean view and my serene surroundings. The first holiday-goers arrive and it is soon time for me to leave. This place, this vast stretch of beach is meeting change just as I am. This is where summer meets tourists, where a metamorphosis is on the verge.
I take one last look at the ocean to bid farewell and find myself plopping back down on the packed sand to fully appreciate my last gaze. My love affair with the beach has lasted since my childhood. My parents used to have to tug me by the wrist to pull me away from dancing along the sea’s shoreline. Yet this year the ocean and I have not shared the same bond. Time is slipping away and summer will soon have passed me by. I am remorseful to have not found the time to visit the one place that makes me so utterly content these past few years. But I stop to appreciate. It is mid-June and I realize I’ve visited my old friend in a new way; her waters much cooler than I remember, her sands more barren than usual, but the sound of her crashing waves so comfortingly familiar. Their rhythmic melody still soothes my ears and calms my mind. Maybe I needed this subtle reminder that times, people, and all of life’s happenings may change but if we embrace this change, we can still find peace.
I stand once again and inhale the salty sea air. This time I acknowledge that there is something terrible in the fact that in a few weeks’ time the shores will be even more crowded. The beach is ready to welcome this change, so I take her advice. I take long strides across the uneven sands, walk back to my base ground, and prepare for a new chapter of my life. Just as the waves welcome the nuisance of being inhabited by swarms of people and the trees let their leaves flutter from in the wind, I give way to welcoming alone time and letting go.