Somewhere between nine and ten years ago I moved out of my parent’s house into my first apartment. The building’s been renovated a few times, slammed by a couple of hurricanes, seen a turnover of renters and owners but has always accepted me with open arms. Long Beach has been my home. Waking up to the sight of the Atlantic at Azores Beach and drifting to sleep each night as the waves crash at the shore has comforted me more than words. The lights from the perfectly aligned cargo ships waiting to enter New York harbour each night no longer look like alien encounters, but nightly friends showing up to say hello. Starry nights, fabulous fireworks, the answers to life’s questions in the whitecaps of the waves and sand beneath my toes at any day I wish have been constants, comforts and joys for the past decade. To say I will miss it is an understatement, but it’s time to spread my wings.
Everyone’s time frame in growth and life are different. I feel like I grew up here. Perhaps the thirties for me may be the twenties for someone else, but I found my way in Long Beach. I went from teaching/advising to event planner, from inactive exercise to anti-gravity yoga, from barely walking to training for 2-day walks on the boardwalk’s boards, from aquatics director to freelance writer, from single to married, from islands only to world traveler and from town resident to active volunteer, participant and organizer all in this city by the sea. I got married on this beach.
Through the world of social media many have witnessed this change but as I look back, I never would have guessed that this girl from Plainview would be me. Long Beach helped me get here and for that I am forever grateful.
I can’t thank the people and this city enough for helping me find my way. I’ve spent more time than I can count breathing in that magical ocean air and pondering life’s questions on those special boardwalk benches. This city never leaves you. On the first Sunday in February, I wore my Polar Bear gear with pride in solidarity with those jumping into the freezing Atlantic.
I’ll smile the week of Memorial Day knowing that my forever friends, those bright orange lifeguard stands will make their appearance once again and shed a small tear on Labour Day weekend knowing that it’s their time to get some much needed rest for the winter. I’m sure someone will make sure to bring snacks (they’re big fans of chocolate cupcakes) to my friendly lifeguards (Henry, Matt, and Marv) on Azores swim and surf to check up on them and thank them for being there day in and day out all summer long. I know they won’t forget me as I won’t ever forget them. I’ll check the city website in the summer and get that same giggly feeling knowing that it’s craft fair weekend in Long Beach, some of my favourite weekends of the entire year! Long Beach is a part of me.
I always wanted to live on the beach. There’s not one minute of being here that I’ve taken for granted. Even when leaving by choice or force of nature, I knew I’d be back. That said, we KNOW we’ll be back-perhaps just not in that very same first apartment with that very same view (it’s the only Long Beach one I’ve ever lived in), but living here has taught me that the things I love are worth fighting for and if I can find a way to have those joys all the time, I should go and get them! A friend of mine once told me that I was lucky. She categorized that ‘lucky’ by the things that made me smile were both inexpensive and easy to find. ‘You’re happy with your toes in the sand and $1 flip flops on your feet’, she said, why can’t you have that all the time? She’s right – it’s time to give it a shot!
Thank you, Long Beach (and apartment 2N at Sunrise Point East). The people, the smiles and lifeguards, the kindness and compassion, the guidance and the friendships, the cupcakes and picnics, the memories, the sandcastles and s’mores, the birthdays and magical moments, the smell of the ocean and the toes in the sand kind of days-for all of it, thank you! There’s a special place in my heart for this building, this city by the sea and all who have called it home at one point or another. We know we’ll be back!
After a December spent road-tripping across the US and avoiding the winter’s snow in southern California, we’ve decided we’re just not yet done with sunny San Diego. We’re hanging here for a bit longer and as always…all are always welcome.
And I promise, no matter where I am in the world there will always be a shell in my pocket and sand in my shoes. Whether it’s today, tomorrow, next month, next summer, next year or sometime in the next decade…we’ll grab an ice cream at Marvel, meet you on the boards and see you on the sand.