Today I take Amtrak to Oceanside. According to some schematic of the Peaceful Warrior, this year for me is about adventure. (Last year was stability.) Unwilling as I am to leave the cats for long, I am determined to embrace the small adventures, day trips across town, across the state, over the border. When this one is complete (I am about an hour and a half away from Palm Springs as I type this), it will have been a 12-plus hour trip for two and a half hours in Oceanside, but it is worth it. I spend travel time writing and working on my blog, my breath caught short when I first see the ocean through the train window.
I talk for a long time to a man with a Catalan accent who lives blocks from me. In Oceanside the tide is in, so I can only walk for a short stretch on the beach, but I relish it, the untamed rush of water that splashes my thighs, the frolic of my fellow beachgoers, bright umbrellas clustered everywhere. I love every minute of walking through the town. The air is clean. I study each street as I walk, dream about living in the old apartment building with the tangled bottlebrush lining the sidewalk, windows thrown open to the sea only a short block away. I am not here long enough to get a sense of the community, but nothing rubs me wrong. Already it feels like a new friend, that first blush. I look forward to more visits, to the getting-to-know-you process, to finding the warts, discovering the underbelly. Back in Riverside County in the middle dusk, the fresh sea air and the shimmer of sun on water seem like a dream, like a thousand miles ago. But it’s a good dream, the kind of dream you want to wake up from slowly, the kind you want to savor, wet sand beneath your bare feet, the warm air salty on your tongue.