This week we’re enjoying the sand and sun at Oceano, just south of Pismo Beach California. This place is infused with so many memories. My wife Teresa has vacationed here with her family since she was young. I grew to love this area as they included me in their time here. It’s a (mostly) laid back place with a mix of locals and vacationers, surfers, ATV’ers, fishermen and regular old beachcombers. Everyone seems to get along and respect the pursuit of the others. I would say that the only real bummer is the constant flow of cars and RVs on the beach. Yes, this is one of the few stretches of sand on the coast of California where you can drive on the beach. And drive they do, day and night. You eventually get used to it, and I suppose it becomes part of the unique fabric of the place, but I really wish the cars would go away. Of course, we’ve brought our own cars down to the beach from time to time, so maybe I’m being just a tiny bit hypocritical. We have some cool shots of the classic bug convertible we used to own on the sand as the sun was starting to set. And there’s that time when we took a Hummer out into the surf, got swamped by a wave and the horn went off and wouldn’t stop honking. Very embarrassing.
It has been a very special place for Teresa and I over the years. It started just a few months after we met. I saw my wife-to-be in a bathing suit for the first time and basically proposed on the spot. We both sort of laughed it off, but in my heart I was really serious, and proved it by walking down the aisle with her just seven months later. We had our honeymoon in a little shack on the this familiar beach, owned by a dear friend of the family. This “shack” grew over the years through remodel and expansion. As the years peeled off and our marriage ebbed and flowed, we would return time after time. Driving up from the crowds of Orange County, escaping the heat and humidity of Texas, driving down from the Bay Area, always returning to this place on the coast. Almost perfectly positioned between the two major population centers of California, somewhat saved from the crush of the cities, a throwback to simpler times.
No matter how much this place grows or changes, the ocean is that element that continues to draw us back. The cool breeze off the water. That constant white noise from the surf. The calm blue water stretching out past the horizon. And the perfect place for those glorious sunsets to come to rest. It became our refuge. A place of joy and sorrow. Watching our children grow into adults. Wrestling with a difficult marriage. Dreaming of a future, maybe living at the beach. Constantly prowling the coastline, searching for that perfect little house, under valued and affordable, just big enough for our family at the time, a place for our dreams to live. We came close a few times but timing, finances and circumstances never aligned. They feel like missed opportunities, but it is hard to know how life may have turned out if we had managed to buy a place here. It is a very real possibility that finances might have forced us to sell, which would have made the pain much more palpable than what we feel with our “near misses”. At this point it is hard to imagine that we will ever buy here, but who knows we might be able to live here for a season, but probably not put down roots. It remains this almost mythical place to return to for a time, think of things past and dream about the future, wherever that might be.