I lay on my stomach, the sun piercing hot and glinting off of my coconut oil-coated back.
I dug my toes into the sand and took a deep breath, inhaling the deliciously humid, salty beach air. I listened to the gentle lapping of the waves on the bay of the peninsula and the sounds of children running around, building sandcastles and playing in the water.
I flipped over, turning my face and stomach to the sun.
The sun reflected off of my scratched aviators, and I propped myself up on my elbows to observe the boats sailing on the bay and yachts anchored to docks across the water.
I rubbed some more coconut oil on my stomach and legs and began flipping through the August edition of Glamour magazine.
Although I did not grow up on the Long Bach Peninsula, in that moment I felt entirely at relaxed, at peace and at home.
My grandmother (we call her Tutu, Hawaiian for grandma) has lived on the Long Beach Peninsula since my mom was a teenager. For as long as I can remember, my extended family has spent glistening summer days playing and BBQ-ing on the beach, kayaking on the bay and through the Naples canals and taking calm boat rides on the water at night. My cousins and I have spent countless Thanksgivings gathered around her dining room table or running around the Peninsula in our nice clothes, digging our toes in the cold sand and threatening to push each other into the frigid, winter water. My cousins and I have embarked on innumerable adventures and partaken in a few too many shenanigans on the Peninsula, ranging from stealing my uncle’s boat and sailing all the way across the bay, to sneaking out at night and swimming out to the brilliantly illuminated Christmas tree rafts that float on the water during every Holiday season. The Peninsula is not exactly a unique and exotic destination, but it has always felt like an escape, a haven from real life.
I have enjoyed countless days wandering Long Beach’s main avenue, 2nd street, indulging in fiery hot, exotic sushi at Sushi on Fire and rich and delicious Thai food at Phuket Thai (it’s pronounced Poo-ket). I have spent innumerable sunny afternoons shopping at Eden for beach-chic attire and Fern’s Garden for slightly hippie-ish knick-knacks. Nothing can compare to the late night trips to Starbucks on the corner of 2nd and Covina that my mom and I continue to make; on a whim we throw on our sweats and walk the mile from my Tutu’s house to Starbucks and sit in the front window of the coffee shop. While enjoying our drinks (I always get a vanilla steamer) we watch the club and bar goers stream past, loudly, jovially, and often hilariously, enjoying the night air and local culture.
When we return home from such excursions, I lay in my bed, feeling full and peaceful, listen to the waves crashing on the ocean side of the peninsula; the energetic yet monotonous rolling sound creates an aura of safety, sentiments of youth and the promise of delightfully fantastic summer adventures. In such moments, lying in bed at night or basking in thick, hot pools of sunshine; I feel completely at ease. No concerned thought quickens my heart. Worries do not stream through my mind in unintelligible confusion. I feel separated from real life, a million miles away from my daily tasks, activities and concerns. In my adventurous heart, I have always harbored a lurking desire to grab my bags and leave my current life behind; to jump on a plane, and disappear into another existence, away from every commonplace worry that plagues my daily life.
Laying on the beach that day, however, contemplating where I was, what I had experienced there, and what it meant to me, I realized that sometimes the best escape is immersing yourself in the familiar; ridding your mind and senses of the constant task of comprehending and organizing all aspects of the fast-paced daily life. Knowing that you are safe, taken care of and at home. It gives a sense of perspective on all of your worries. Just like the ocean waves, monotonously breaking on the Peninsula shore, assures you that some things are continual as they never change. No matter what happens, you will always have a place to go, somewhere familiar you can call home, and everything will be ok.