When you visit the same place frequently, it comes to live in the space between the familiarity of home and the exotic newness of a place you know you won’t see again. You have a chance to experience some of its moods, not just its dressed-up-for-company facade. I’ve been enjoying that opportunity for the last three years as I have visited Hilary at UC Santa Barbara. Hey, somebody has to do it.
I have seen the beaches around Isla Vista look romantic in the rosy glow of another gorgeous sunset. I’ve seen them look endless summer-y under bright blue skies with surfers in the water and volleyball games on the sand. I’ve seen the peacefulness of the lagoon on campus in the early morning light. Many moods, but all suitable for the university brochure.
But this last visit was different. On this early morning, under dull gray skies, the beach felt creepy. These stairs, which I have seen almost fully submerged when the tide is high, beckoned me down to see what lies beneath. The shifting world of underwater was exposed. The tide was out, but it was making its quiet, sneaky way back in. The curving line of the cliffs at the shoreline sent fingers out to meet the waves, creating dry horseshoes of sand with no escape. It was a beach Stephen King would love.
Same stretch of land, but a very different beach.
Be careful out there.