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On Siesta, life’s a beach

I’m not a sun worshiper by any stretch of the imagination. I slather on a 45 SPF just for a walk from my front door to the mailbox.

When I first moved here a couple of years ago, I think I had an innate suspicion of the nearly-naked, let it all hang out mentality of “the beach.” Moving from the boxed up, work all night, often uptight big city to the sun-soaked, knock off at 5 o’clock, Jimmy Buffet-style tourist town has taken some getting used to.

Despite my Draculian dread of the sun, I find myself drawn to Siesta Beach more and more often. My city-dweller skepticism has proven no match for its allure and I’m sure any minute now I’ll start hankering for a margarita instead of a martini.

Even with the traffic and the trouble finding a parking spot, Siesta is nothing short of a gift to the senses — you can literally see, feel, touch, hear, and smell its beauty, its expansiveness.

In other words, Siesta’s got soul.

A soul gleaned from the imprint of thousands upon thousands of people who’ve come to the beach for fun, sun, romance, solitude, weddings, break-ups, remembering, forgetting.

People of all ages, shapes and sizes, faiths and customs, colors and costumes, from all over the world. They speak a smorgasbord of languages with accents from the Bronx to Bhutan and all points in between.

And yet even a cynic like myself can see that, for everyone who comes to Siesta, whether as a tourist who’s traveled from two continents away or as a resident who has only to slide open a glass door to breath in the salt air, Siesta speaks a language that everyone can understand: the language of the senses … the language of the soul.

From the sweet morning quiet of beachcombers and speed walkers, through the daytime cacophony of boogie-boarding kids, screeching gulls, and delighted children, to the early evening murmur of sun-baked honeymooners, cameras clicking, and groups of friends and family gathering to watch one those hypnotic, color-drenched sunsets on the horizon — who among us isn’t moved by the sheer perfection that is Siesta?

At the end of the day everyone gathers up their toys and books and picnic baskets. They shake off their towels and look for their keys. The last of the sunset stragglers plod toward the parking lot.

But I’ve got this image in my mind that as dusk settles, Siesta takes on a second life:

As the parking lot empties, the beach begins surreptitiously gathering up the impressions all the beachgoers have left behind. Impressions of our humanity — not the visible ones of plastic shovels and forgotten sunglasses, but the invisible ones — the good feelings we brought with us, the bad feelings we hopefully left behind.

Under the cover of night, the beach collects and catalogs the emotional detritus of who we are — our secret hopes, loves, and longings, our grief, our loneliness, our romance. The hands we hold, or don’t. The insecurities we let go of or hold onto. The bravery we show by swimming in the unknown. The comfort we feel from feeling the sun on our skin.

The beach takes all the bad stuff – the anger, the resentment, the griefs that come with some people, the petty arguments that flare up, the moments of tantrum — and sweeps all that sadness out to the water’s edge to let the ocean’s waves break it all down into nothing. The beach rounds up all the disappointments, the frailties of the human heart, the hurts, the fears, the tears, and sends them up to the stars to dissolve into the universe.

Overnight, the beach turns itself inside out, burying the impressions of our footprints, our waterlogged castles, our “I love you’s” scribbled in the sand. It enfolds the positive thoughts and feelings from so many happy people and joyous moments, and layers that loveliness deep into its depths.

By taking the pleasures and happiness of people one day and using them to create a cushion of solace and comfort for anyone who comes in pain the next, Siesta turns casual beach-going into some serious soul-soothing.

And, no matter what language you speak or where you’re from, no matter if you’re a beach-lover from birth or a Johnny-come-lately skeptic like me, Siesta’s got more than enough soul … to soothe yours.

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Posted on March 20th, 2009Comments RSS Feed
One Response to On Siesta, life’s a beach
  1. Life’s a Beach, I freaking love the beach. It is my life, without it I would be very very sad!

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