On Friday, we drove up to the beach. Generally, the beach irritates me: the water is overwhelmingly salty, the sand is gritty and it gets everywhere. On top of that, it’s always unbearably hot and I always get sunburned.
Needless to say, the beach is not my favorite place. But this time, I was determined to enjoy it. And I could tell as soon as I stepped out onto the sand that I would. For one, the weather was perfect: dark clouds covered the sun, so the weather was cool. Every time it got too hot, a sprinkling of rain would drop the temperature and then the sky would clear. From the beach, you could see rain on the horizon, passing by in sheets. The sight was beautiful.
The water was the perfect temperature, the sand wasn’t too hot to walk on, the sun wasn’t in my eyes, and there was a breeze.
But within thirty minutes, I was sick of the beach. So I took a nap.
I have trouble with the beach – besides the aforementioned reasons, I can’t help but seeing everything as a metaphor. The ocean, the beach, the shore, the tide, the people on the beach, beachcombing – even watching the weather pass along the horizon: all of it. It’s all a huge metaphor, for life, for human nature, society…
And as much as I love metaphors, they’re all overused and terrible metaphors. Which I can’t stand.
I wish I liked the beach. I wish I could lie in the sun with a book and my iPod and just relax. But I can’t.
Before we left the beach, I saw two women walk out across the sand and set down two chairs next to each other, immediately sitting down and chatting away. The beach is an escape for them: a nice place to go to get away from normal life, a place to relax, a place to be with friends.
Two days passed, and on Sunday morning, Papa and I went to the private airport of which he is the vice-chair. He showed me the Cessnas and the Beechcrafts, and then we toured the hangars and watched couple planes take off. He showered me a pilot’s lounge, where there were various screens showing radar and satellite imaging. After expressing my affinity for meteorology, we got in the car and drove away.
As we were driving, Papa talked about everything and anything. I was stuck by how much Papa knows. Sure, he can be annoying sometimes, and he’s a terrible driver (he has a complete and utter disregard for stop signs), but he’s so knowledgeable, and he’s a really hard worker. He does everything he does for the people he loves, and that’s pretty inspiring.
We stopped at Starbucks – which is on The List, I know, but Starbucks is my weakness. We do not throw stones here. At Starbucks, Papa read a financial newspaper (the literary equivalent of watching paint dry) and I wrote in my journal. I realized in Starbucks how much I love it there – not because of the coffee (or the hipsters), but because Starbucks is an oasis. The woman at the table next to us was painting. I was writing. A guy outside was working on his computer, and a girl behind us was studying – all things you can do at home, but we were doing them at Starbucks. Why?
Because Starbucks is an oasis. A place to get away from everyday life. A place to write, to draw, to study. A place to be by yourself without being alone.
After Starbucks, we drove over to Barnes and Noble (blowing through a few stop signs on the way). I glanced at some books, joked about learning Russian, and then noticed: Barnes and Noble is an oasis, too. Driving home, I realized that everyone has their oasis. The beach is an oasis for those two women. The airport is an oasis for Papa. Starbucks is an oasis for the artist I saw; for college students, hipsters, businessmen, stay-at-home moms. Barnes and Noble is an oasis for me.
I think our oasis shows insight into who we are. What do I love about Barnes and Noble? I love being surrounded by books. I love the idea of being able to open anything in the store and immerse myself in a story, or learn something new. I love that it has something for everyone, and everything for someone. New horizon, new opportunities – and motivation. As a writer, as a student, those shelves hold hope and inspiration.
I love how I can enjoy the place no matter who I’m with; whether I’m alone, with my dad or with my best friends. I love how if we split up, I know exactly where my friends and family will be hen I go to find them: my brother will be slipping through a Lego book in the Toys/Games section. Mom will be looking at educational or clearance stuff. Essie goes to cookbooks, or goes with Tanith to YA. Dad and Papa can both be counted on to be at the newsstand flipping through an aviation magazine.
And me? I could be anywhere. I could be looking at the knick-knacks, reading Shakespeare, poring over sheet music, meandering the Middle Grade fiction and wondering why it is that everything in MG is better than the stuff in YA. Because I’m multi-faceted. And so is my oasis.
What does that say about me? I’m not sure. But once I figure it out, I feel like I’ll be one step closer to answering my ultimate question: who am I?