“Why do you like the beach?”

I said something one dimensional when you asked me. It wasn’t that I hadn’t thought about it. It was just that I couldn’t find the right words to answer the question. 

Maybe I have the words now? 

My favorite  place I’ve lived in as a child was California. We lived there for four years. We’d go to the beach often, so often that I can’t even remember it being significant. I remember for a science project in the fourth grade I wanted to compare solubility of… something, I can’t remember what. But I needed sea water, and after church we just drove to the beach. It wasn’t for fun, just for school, just for the sea water. The beach was that accessible, almost a staple, something needed but commonplace, taken for granted. 

We left when I was eight. I don’t think I saw the sea again until I was fourteen. 

I was at a beach in Kerela, India. There were too many people, a lot of noise, it was too cold and it had too much sand. I couldn’t for the life of me remember why I liked the beach so much as a kid. It was a rose colored memory, some naively beautiful story a child told herself, it had to be. I remember watching my mom and brother run toward the sea, calling after me to join them. They wanted to play in the water, not too far in, just far enough to feel the water crash against their legs and the soft silty sea sand wash over their toes. Maybe they thought it was wholesome fun. Looking out into the horizon, which drove waves crashing toward the shore, I was mesmerized by the turbulent, almost violent temperament of the water. How could you play like docile children before such a thing? Maybe it was a reality too large to comprehend, something to be ignored until it caused an issue. It brought me peace to realize I could relate. 

Later in life, when we moved down south, the beach became accessible again, not a weekend trip like it had been before, but with some planning and five hours of driving, we can make it happen. I think the first time I drove long distance was on a road trip to the beach, I can’t quite remember. 

Yes, at this point in my life, my family started going to the beach a lot again.

I remember sitting on a balcony one night at some vacation house in Florida, I don’t remember which one, and listening to the sea crash into the sand. It was too dark to see anything, but I could hear the ocean from a distance, beautiful beast. It must have been Christmas Break. Or maybe it was the day of? My mother had called her mother and, as I did a million times as a child, I listened in on their conversation. It was in Malayalam. Something about that paired with the sound of the crashing sea made me feel like I’m in my place. My ancestors lived in a coastal city. In another life, where different choices were made and different opportunities were presented, perhaps I would have been sitting by the ocean with my mother and grandmother, listening to them converse face to face as the Indian Ocean crept to the shore. 

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