In the more than ten years since I've lived in L.A., I've been commuting to work by the same road - Highway One, Pacific Coast Highway. Each morning I drive past the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes it's clear and sunlit. Sometimes it's shrouded in fog. I come around the bend past Topanga Canyon Boulevard and see the curve of the beach below the site of the Getty Villa. Sometimes there's someone walking on the sand. Or a dog leaping in and out of the waves. I pass the cars of surfers parked south of Gladstones, and get a glimpse of them out on their boards in the water. A traffic jam is sometimes rewarded by the sight of dolphins leaping.
I often wish I were down there on the beach. But I keep my hands on the wheel and focus on the road, and off to work I go.
Except this morning.
I pulled over on the shoulder and parked the car, letting the morning traffic pass me by. I picked my way down the sandy bluff to the beach. I walked through the soft sand until I came to the hard-packed tidal sand. These guys kindly shared their beach with me.
I followed the birds down to the seaweed-covered rocks. I filled my lungs with the smell of the ocean. I listened to the waves advance on the beach, and then retreat, sighing. I just took a few minutes. Then I was back in the car.
I walked in to work still feeling the sand between my toes.