At first, it’s a feeling of texture; grit somehow paired with a softness. The sand is like hard bubbles rising around my bare feet, my legs when I lie down, my back when it finally rests there. Then I’m faced with the baking sun above me and the burning sand beneath me and I feel calm from this. The same feeling that often accompanies people who go to the sauna meets me here. The sun demands my attention to such a degree that at first I feel like the ocean is a mirage; a happenstance hallucination of desire; desire for a thing I cannot define and yet crave. Then the sight of the sun ebbs, the halos and blinding white of the star secede from my vision and I see the tumult of blue, green, white as wave and wave and wave crash against the shore. I cannot turn away from it; it’s like highway hypnosis. No wonder people meditate here.
They say that humans are drawn to the ocean for biological reasons, or because we have mostly comprised of water, but there’s something more to it, some innate trigger that draws me to the beach, makes me miss it when I’m gone and keeps me here for hours and hours when I should be doing any number of other things. Just looking at the colors calms me. If I look long enough the colors of blue start to separate into finer more dimensional blues; as if blue could be a thousand colors of itself each in varying degrees. And when the blue ends I see green. And when green ends there’s always the white caps of waves that look like roiling horses speeding toward me. They lift up children on their necks, surfers in their bellies, and roil closer and closer and brave the final break that ruins then onto the shore.
When my eyes have taken enough in I can close them and listen. The beach is a bevy of sound. The waves roar the closer I am to rocks and caves. The birds call out as if the ocean were a murderer and they scream their vengeance above it and then, when they’re calm enough they dive into the water and I hear them splash between the crash of waves. My ears are assaulted each and every time I go to the beach.
The taste; I have to mention the taste. When a wave overpowers me and sucks me down and under I roll until the same waves smacks me back to the beach like a cast off shoe the first thing that recognize is salt. The taste of ocean salt is unmistakable. It’s as if someone took a giant salt shaker and tipped it in quantities exceeding forever into that massive blue marble. Sand may have a taste for I’ve had my fair share of mouthfuls of sand, but compared to salt, it takes a back seat to taste.
Finally there’s the feel of the beach. I mentioned the warmth from both the sun and the sand, as well as the grit from the sand but there’s this feeling of softness at the beach. The waves are smooth when I glide my hand between them; they’re slick as seals. The way the wet sand gives beneath my feet when I stand at the shoreline, the sinking feeling of not wetness yet, but moisture around me. I can even taste moisture in the air. It’s as if simply by standing by the shoreline long enough I can drink the ocean in.