It was after nightfall on the beach in San Diego. I was about a half mile north of Mexico. The moon was full and beaming down on the surface of the ocean. I had never seen a place like this before. I had never seen the moonlight intermingle with the waves like this. I never saw a pier that reached out from the land and stretched high above the shoreline and reached out into the water. I never saw anything like this, except in movies. I never felt the feelings or smelled the smells. This is partly what made my trip so memorable to say. Perhaps this was memorable because there is nothing like this in New York. There are certainly no palm trees. The sunrise was different here. So are the sunsets.
There was a purpose for my being here. Then again, there was more than one purpose that went far beyond the business at hand. There was a lesson here. There was an experience and an unforgettable moment, which I will carry with me for the rest of my days.
I was on the last night of my trip. My purpose here was to act as a sober coach for a client that was interested in a different kind of treatment. The treatment itself, the client, and the owner of this program will be left out of this text to honor the agreements of confidentiality. The business of my trip is not the reason this was impactful. However, and more to the point, the experience itself and the scenery is what I intend to focus on. I made it here. I earned this spot. This might not sound like much to some people. To me, this was bigger than a trip across the country.
To begin, I have to say that I am not someone that has traveled much. I have only seen a few places in my country. Most of the places I’ve seen are more common places such as Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach and Orlando Florida.
The Tri-State area was always my scene. I am a New Yorker. Born and bred. I always have been a New Yorker and I always will be. My accent is easily detectable and within moments of travelling outside of my area, my accent is usually pointed out by one of the locals.
Even where I live now, which is north of the city, my accent stands out and I am often ribbed by some of the local store clerks with a pleasant sense of humor. It is funny to those who’ve met me through my writing because the way I write and the way I speak is very different.
In fairness, I’ve never had any connection to another place. I love my roots and where I’m from. Although, admittedly, I can say that if my finances changed, it would be easy to see myself living someplace warm. I could walk around with Bermuda shorts and living along a white sand beach somewhere. It would be good to live in a climate where I never had to wear snow boots or even closed shoes again.
I could see myself living on an island where even the color turquoise would point at the water and say, “Goddam, that’s a crazy shade of blue!”
I have been to different places along the East coast. When I was younger, I went to Maryland and spent a weekend near the Inner Harbor. Supposedly, there was a trip to Canada, which I had made when I was an infant. Obviously, there is no memory of this.
I’ve seen Philadelphia a few times. I’ve seen different parts of Pennsylvania, Jersey, Connecticut, and there was a long car trip to Massachusetts, which I made when I was very young. I saw Texas a few times and New Mexico once to visit my Mother’s hometown of Carlsbad. We went to the Carlsbad Caverns and The Living Desert Zoo. I’ve been to Washington D.C. I’ve taken a ride out east to Long Island, just to find a place to have a bowl of soup in Montauk.
There was a trip to Beaver Creek in Colorado. This came a year to the date after The Old Man passed away. There was a two-week stay in the Hawaiian Islands, which would have been better if I was with better company. I saw L.A. a few times. I was in the hills to watch the sunset. I saw the Hollywood Sign and ate a few meals on the strip at places like The Riot House.
Los Angeles was nice but the mood from some of the people was a little off-putting. And again, I was harassed about my accent a few times. Someone thought it would be interesting to poke fun at me in an elevator. He braved the chance to have a laugh at my expense and asked, “First time in L.A.?” Perhaps the fact that I was not alone prevented me from explaining myself differently to this man. Maybe this was me reading too much into it. Or, maybe the guy was just a dick! Or, perhaps the truth could be a combination of the two. Either way, I ate sweet corn ravioli that night. Have you ever tried sweet corn ravioli?
You should try this sometime. It’s pretty good.
I never took a trip to Vegas before. I never went to Cancun or Baja. I never had the chance to see The Eiffel Tower or watch the sun go down in Napoli. Then again, the list of places I would like to see and the sights I would like to experience are long. Nevertheless, the places I’ve seen in my life have left memorable impressions. All of them have been left for different reasons. I remember the time I was in a troubled section of the Bronx. I know why I was there and I know which corner I was on. As crazy as this place was and as deadly, even here, the sunset has a way of calming the tension, even if only for a little bit.
I never took a train ride throughout Europe. I never saw the shores in Australia. I never saw the Fjords, which, if I’m not mistaken is the place where William S. Burroughs told Jim Carroll “You have to see the Fjords before you die.”
I remember being a kid and watching movies about the beaches in California. I remember watching with such amazement and wondering if I would ever make it there on my own steam. I wondered if I could be something out there.
I wondered if I would ever know how it feels to have my toes in the sand or watch the sun go down on the California shore.
There is something to the events of our life, which can often seem inexplicable. I am not sure why the course I’ve taken has led me to where I am. I am not sure if or where I will be at this very same time, next year, or the year after. The only thing I know is this ride we’re on keeps moving. I keep moving and so will you.
There are times like this when I find myself so overwhelmed and moved by the blessings I’ve found. For example, take my last night in San Diego. I came to a moment of overpowering sentiment that was enough to have me weep. I wept for my experience. I wept because of the doubt in which I had for myself was defied because I made this trip. I earned my position without regard to the odds against me. I made a deal with myself that night on the shore. I made a pact. I made a petition with me, myself and I beneath the sky. I asked the Pacific Ocean as the ears to my request and to act as a witness to my appeal.
There is a great big world out there. I may see more of it and I might not. The future is not determined. However, the one thing I have determined is that no one else has the right to dictate or limit me or my abilities. Not anyone. Not ever.
Maybe there are places like Fiji or other places in different climates that have breathtaking views and amazing sights to see. Maybe someday I’ll know more about the sunrise on Virginia Beach or the sunset in San Francisco or maybe Alaska. Maybe I’ll have the chance to go to Bali or Sicily. Maybe I’ll see Barcelona or find myself in the sands at Cayo Santa Maria.
All I know is there was a night beneath the sky at a place I never thought I would see while doing things I never thought I’d experience, which means the world is an open place.
I have my passport. For now, the pages are empty. But for the record, I am willing to travel.
By the way, have you ever had a shrimp burrito or any of the fish tacos at a place called The Tin Fish in San Diego? You need to do this before you die.
This may not be the same as seeing The Fjords, but man, the food was pretty goddamn marvelous.