I’m not a beach girl. I don’t like wet swimsuits, finding trash in the sand, gross bathrooms. I live an hour from the beach and rarely go.
The ocean however…
I could sit and stare at forever. The waves crashing in the distance. My hair smelling like salt. The way I like to believe it makes my skin softer.
When I was 13, I saw a photo of Giant’s Causeway in Ireland in National Geographic. I’d never seen anything so strange and unique looking. These octagonal lava formations stacked and stacked upon each other in odd varying patterns. Standing in my 7th grade geography classroom, I vowed to make it there one day.
I finally made it to Ireland. I was 32, divorced, heartbroken seemingly beyond repair. Not where I thought I would be when I was 13. I rented a car and taught myself how to drive on the opposite side of the road, specifically so I could eventually get to the Causeway. I’ve done a lot of scary things in my life, but those first few hours on the road were terrifying.
Ireland is a magical place filled with the loveliest people on the planet. Everywhere you go, they want to know everything about you. Where you’re from, what you do, what have you done so far, and where are you going. Every time I mentioned the Causeway, everyone said it was disappointing, small, and not worth my time. Essentially how I had been feeling the entire trip. Nevertheless, I had a non-refundable hotel so I was going.
It took me five hours to drive up to the Causeway, far longer than I’m willing to drive to get to Santa Monica in LA. But I got to the hotel, and checked in at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Determined, I rushed to make it there before sundown. As I walked along the trail, the soothing feel of the tides began to wash over me. I turned the corner and there it was. The photo on the cover of National Geographic. It looked exactly as I imagined it.
I broke down before I even stepped foot on the Causeway. I cried for the strength that I had to make it all the way there. For the courage to dissolve my broken marriage. For all of the decisions I had made along the way that had gotten me to that very moment.
My feet felt like sand as I walked closer to what is now my favorite place in the whole world. No one else was there. It was a travel miracle. When I reached the edge, I finally felt free.
I sat in my solitude and watched the sun go down with serenade of the waves crashing in the distance. Being alone is a power that very few people can handle. That day I saw myself for who I truly am. Whole. I have never been happier in any moment in my life. I knew that 13 year old me was beaming inside.
It’s a humbling feeling to feel so small and so seen by the universe at the same time.
Beaches are lovely. But give me an ocean with depths and a jagged shoreline. This girl? She’s gonna be just fine.