As a teenager, beach days meant skipping school to try in vain to get a golden tan where I knew, deep down, only freckles would appear. Drinking Ballz energy drinks and wishing we were old enough to order pina coladas at the bars. Sneaking into tacky hotel swimming pools and, of course, leaving mounds of sand in our wake. Skim boarding and bleeding from the knees every time. Admiring the college kids on spring break and listening to way too many Justin Timberlake songs.
In college it was all about that cooler full of beer, Smirnoff or, in my case, tequila. Fraternity formals, neon tank tops, flip cup, making fools of ourselves while throwing our letters up at any camera we could find. Still trying for that unattainable tan and perfect beach bod while obsessing over who was last seen making out with whose date. So much Corey Smith.
Right after college it was a source of freedom and independence. Finally realizing I could go somewhere, be something and enjoy time all by myself. It was drinking tea, reading, listening to the ocean, coming to terms with my pale complexion and perhaps even enjoying the constant reapplication of sunscreen.
On the east coast the beach was hot and the water was there to cool down in. The air was sticky, you could taste the salt without going near the water and there were motels, hotels, condos and kitschy shops selling beach towels with giant white tigers on them as far as the eye could see. It was good. I loved it there and I still do. But beach days are different now.
Here I see people openly sipping wine, dogs sprinting with their everything into the ocean to catch balls, giant rock formations decorating the coastline, cool, dry gusts of wind, jackets, sweaters, windbreakers, brave children swimming and soon their teeth chattering, surfers always wearing wetsuits and the absolute most gorgeous freakin' sunsets I've ever come across.
These days beach days still serve all the best purposes of the past: day drinking, laughing too loudly over a game of frisbee, making out in the sand, spending time alone, reading, people watching. But they're also for making new friends, dancing in the sunset, playing with a fancy camera and being grateful for this pretty great place.