A Golden State of Mind
I stood on a blanket of grainy sand on the edge of a cliff before a vast gray horizon and slowly shut my eyes. For the first time in three weeks, the world stood still. The salty breeze caressed my cheeks and brushed through my hair until it covered my face. I didn’t care to move it. I was too busy taking in the squawking of the seagulls, the barking of the sea lions, the crashing of the waves and the chattering of the crowd clusters around me.
I opened my eyes to see Matt standing in front of me looking out at the ocean, the outlined figure of his body contrasting the muted grays and blues from where the sky met the rippling of the waves. He was perfectly still, hands in his pocket, the hair on his arms prickling up ever so slightly from the gentle wind gusts, as he gazed out at the sea lions jumping from rock to water and back again. I didn’t approach him, wanting him to have his moment of solace and peace, for I didn’t have to ask what was on his mind. The answer was on the back of his shirt in a little logo of New Jersey.
Since starting our journey together, Matt and I have lived in six different states spanning over the course of four years—Matt having lived in more before I joined him on the road. Our homes have ranged from coast to coast, the list including: New Jersey, New York, Iowa, Illinois, Arizona and, most recently, California. All these states had different backdrops, from the concrete skyscrapers of Manhattan and Chicago, to the open corn fields of Des Moines, to the dry mountains and deserts of Arizona. But there was one place we always called home.
It has been a great adventure, as we continue to check off yet another state on our grand baseball tour of exploration. Although we enjoyed all of our homes, some we favored more than others, feeling a sense of comfort more quickly as we adapted to life the way it was lived there.
California’s verdict was still up in the air. I never imagined living on the west coast. The idea of being so far from our family and friends back on the east coast terrified me. But here we were, just a couple of Jersey kids finding our way in a new state, a new city, a new…wait, it had a beach?
Since touching down in San Diego, Matt and I have done quite a bit of exploring. We walked the entire downtown district. We ate meals in tiny whole-in-the-wall places at the advice of locals we met along the way. We strolled along the water and toured Seaport Village. We spent five hours meandering through the famous San Diego Zoo. We tested Phil’s Barbeque and had our first taste of authentic Mexican food in Old Town. We learned to bring our own reusable bags to grocery stores and discovered the quickest way to walk to Petco Park. And most recently, we drove the short drive from our downtown apartment to La Jolla Cove, where we ate seafood on the edge of the water, took selfies with the sea lions scattering about and sat at the edge of the cliff soaking in our first real taste of the breathtaking California coastline.
That was the thing about growing up by the beach. No matter where we lived, we always found our way back to the ocean. I didn’t know if it was the sand between our toes, the healing of the salty air as we inhaled deeply, the warmth of the summer breeze as it hugged our bodies or the answers to dilemmas we faced appearing simply by sitting and gazing out at the waves rolling in along the shoreline that brought us comfort no matter which coast we made our home, we realized.
He finally looked back at me and outstretched his arm, holding out his hand and waiting for me to grab it. I slowly placed my hand in his and stepped forward until I was next to him. I lowered my head to his shoulder as we both stood in silence and watched the remainder of the sea lions scoot up the rock to prepare for the night’s slumber. He squeezed me a little tighter and took a deep breath. San Diego was going to be just fine.