There is still sand in the navy blue
flats I wore to Long Island the day the three of us went to brunch and ended up on the beach.
"I don't know if you know this," I said, "but I'm a Californian who doesn't like the beach."
That's not entirely true--some of my best memories come from evenings on piers, and watching the waves from the sand. The beach is unavoidable when you spend four years in Orange County. What I hated were crowded beaches in the daytime and sunburnt bros and the sand that followed you home and appeared for months in clothing you never even took to the beach in the first place.
But hopping on that train last October and heading out to a beach, the first I'd been to since moving to the East Coast, was refreshing, rejuvenating. It wasn't just the fresh air and the empty sidewalks; it was being with two amazing people while close to the ocean again, and laughing over torn cardigans and spilt ketchup.
That was only six months ago. It feels like it's been years. I don't remember much about the city or the streets there, and I can barely recognize the friends I fell asleep next to so comfortable on the train.
This French novelist once said, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I used to scoff at that notion because if things were always changing, how could I hold onto the love and the dreams and the optimism? You feel certain things when you're 16, 18, 21, 22 in new and different ways. I couldn't imagine being who I am today with the same thoughts and feelings of a 16 year old.
But what I think that saying really means is that there are memories you hold inside of you that don't ever change, and that sometimes it's the insecurities you may have felt as a 10 year old on the playground or the mistrust you've held in your heart since you were 18 that remain so deeply engraved on the cover of your life. There's a part of you that is built on all of the things you've never forgotten--whether they be good memories or bad ones--and even as you grow up and learn more and become somebody new with each passing year, you can't ever really distance yourself from memories and from the past. Maybe sometimes that's a good thing, maybe sometimes it isn't.
The person I am today is built on the foundation of every experience I've ever had. Those beach-filled memories of bonfires and boardwalks and little bottles of alcohol tucked into a crevice between us in the sand don't just disappear. No, perhaps they became painful to see all around, and it was best to leave it behind, to move forward onto new memories and a new chapter, but it doesn't mean they're gone.
I've been in New York for over a year now, but it feels like less because I didn't really start that new chapter until it was almost too late. I guess I didn't expect those old memories to follow me 3,000 miles east, and I think that's why I'm not done with New York yet, even though the chance to leave it could be just a phone call away. Perhaps I don't love things now the way I did six months ago, but I know I loved them once. That didn't disappear. I still have the sand to prove it.