it's the place i half-heartedly had in mind when i wrote "By Your Side." it's colorful, big, bustling with youth and madly-driven to find youth elderly-- and it's not to be found in Southern California. it's a little trek to Shangri-La with Santa Cruz.
i found myself along the winding redwoods of Hwy 17 and out to the Pacific along the Boardwalk this week. my girl Alyssa called all of us together here as a good place to kick off her friend Kristine visiting the West Coast (from New York!). nothing can beat Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, not even any spot down south. it's just HUGE, pretty much all that i can say being a writer-- speechless for words. my focus particularly now is why it all appeals to me, give or take the good/bad windy weather and crowds AND ridiculously overpriced grease for food, just to get that instant rush of the West Coast any one looks for.
and i go on about this whole "West Coast" phenomenon. it felt like it that way this week. i enjoyed talking to Kristine over what was out here and how it was like in New York. it got me thinking how different California is, in weird ways. it's a strange fantasy, one i'm so used to as others look in on what seems like a circus. it truly does feel like that with California. there's so much going on, there really is. but maybe that's just me, having not gone beyond Arizona or stepping past Seattle in the north, but when i do leave the West for new exciting things perhaps then i will see that California was no big deal. but i honestly think i'll doubt that-- nowhere is ever quite like your true home.
screams, cotton candy, a broken carousel horse, dirty hands from the chipped wood that lines the sand-clotted walkways. beach boardwalks are something of a beauitul antique in themselves. their heydays à la Coney Island and Brighton Pier weren't too long ago, but somehow the magic of a seaside carnival has made its way to our shores and captivates the masses, particularly the writer in me. i'm in love. in love with summer again (autumn my professed favorite season.... the best of both worlds, of course!), in love with the idea that California is next to normal-- or far from it, and in love with the genuine happiness i see in the faces of the children and couples and all ages just flocking to this indulgence that just echoes the perfect day by the sea you dreamed about.
yes, somewhere by the sea under the sun, that's California to most. it's undoubtedbly a dreamy fun romantic setting i can't deny, and that's why i love Santa Cruz because it just fits each and every stereotype of the state i can't help but love. the whole beach town setting is also where i chose to backdrop "By Your Side," because i wanted to debunk that Californians themselves are different. we're all people, and life is life, no matter what part of the world you're in. love may happen, love may grow, or it may not. even in California disappointment abounds, and it's no better than it would occurr in the Midwest or Eastern Europe. do i think the idyllic California exists? of course, it's a phenomenon that's self-fulfilling by its citizens, glamorizing every little thing just for the sake of it. but that doesn't make life different for us out here. but there really are those aspects to the California the whole world knows, Northern or Southern or even Central Coast, that sets forth everyone outside into thinking its own people live in a land the rest of the world wants to escape to. in the end, out here we only want to escape further, from downers of life, from ourselves-- from our mistakes we may make. and if we can't, at least in California you can just be like "fuck it," and everyone turns the other way.
just live in that moment. soak up the sun, and as much as you can. out here, there's plenty of sunshine, and not just from the sun. all around you, California-grown.
(photos via Jenny and Alyssa)