I remember when I was six years old, my mom would drive the five hours from our home in Las Vegas to the beach, somewhere in California. It was probably Laguna, but, honestly, we could have been anywhere. All I can recall is the endless ocean, jagged rocks and scattered people across the shore. As my mom digested cheesy romance novels and chatted cheerfully on the phone with relatives, I would nestle myself in the warm sand and try to make sandcastles from a leftover Mcdonald's cup and a pink plastic shovel.
During this era of ruffled one-pieces and jelly sandals, I was small and filled only with thoughts of dessert after lunch, or if the girl two towels over would let me borrow her bucket. I never questioned the depth of the ocean, or considered what lurked beneath the soothing waves. Life was safe and concrete — a straight pathway unaffected by fears of the future and hauntings from the past.
But just as the tide, my life changed. With age comes understanding, and as I grew, fewer days resembled those fleeting summer moments. I no longer cried over the wrong ice cream flavor — instead, I whined about failed assignments and lost friends, mistakes I had made and moments when I couldn’t do anything to prevent my own pain. I mourned loss and struggled through heartbreak, tackled insecurities and developed new ones. From my time as a little girl on the California beach, to who I am now, I have discovered so much about myself and the world around me. I think below and beyond the surface.
While I may have left my six-year-old bubble far behind, one aspect continues to thrive. It still feels like I am struggling to build a castle, but, now, instead of sand, it is my life that slips through my fingers.
I have become strained by my own mind, as I now feel the need to plan every second that passes — requiring a five-year-plan, when I rarely have any idea what to do in the next five minutes. In my world, now, time is not a luxury: it is a pressure on my shoulders, as I am constantly torn between wanting it to speed up and slow down. I long for the days of floppy hats and suntan lotion more than anything else. But, at the same time, I cannot wait for the future when I will replace my mom on the reclined beach chair, watching my own kids wander and play in the sand.
It is this mental tug-of-war that reminds me that there is a space in-between these two ideals — a location in time where I exist now, full of moments I shouldn’t waste as I long for years gone or yet to come. The real lesson I should take from my dreams of the California coast is to channel the peace I felt as that little girl. I basked in the sun, and ignored the obstacles I would one day face, subconsciously recognizing that they will come inevitably. I must realize that the key to preventing things from slipping through my fingers is to simply let them fall. My life, just like my sandcastle, will come together.