By The Sea


In the seven years we’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’d never “done” the Santa Monica Pier.

That’s for tourists. My brain said. It’ll be crowded and expensive.

Ok, well, so what? Life is to short for excuses. Lately I’ve been stricken with restlessness. The walls of my life have felt very confining and more than once I’ve found myself sitting at work with a chest so tight I can barely breathe thinking about all the ways that my life is passing me by whims I’m just trying to get by instead of actually being lived.

So I compensate by planning outings. Santa Monica Pier. Pitch Fest at the USC talent week. Lunch with an old friend. Dinner out with the Curmudgeonly Lion. Having friends over to sit by the firepit. Etc. I feel starved for experiences. Without having social media as a way to live vicariously, I’m rattling around in my own personal echo chamber screaming at the walls until the voices that bounce back at me are louder than my own.

The outings give me something to daydream about beforehand, something to enjoy in the moment, and something to look back on afterwards so that I can point to it and say: “There- that’s something I did in my life.”

I planned the Pier outing for a Tuesday. Taco Tuesday. I figured it would be easy and low key to get tacos down near the Pier then wander around and see what there was to see: play some arcade games, maybe ride the carousel. Generally avoid acting my age.

We stopped at a place called Taco Libre- a three location chain with cheap prices and good reviews. I got two kinds of fish tacos. The Curmudgeonly Lion got a burrito. I tried a drink called Tamarindo Ole! Which turned out to be pretty good in spite of very slightly tasting of prunes. A good time was had by all.

We walked down to the end of the Pier to see the sites and to people watch. Santa Monica is a good place to people watch with a full fairy tale spectrum of all walks of life: beautiful, winsome creatures taking selfies; gnarled, crabbed wretches shouting incoherently, kindly churro vendors, businesslike fishermen, free-spirits, carnies, children and dogs.

We stood at the end of the Pier to watch the sun go down over the distant bluffs of Malibu. The wind was kicking the water into roiling surf rising and crashing in long rows as it approached the beach. I wanted to sink into the moment and just absorb the luminous colors and the fresh sea air, but a whispering paranoia kept telling me that I didn’t belong there and that everybody knew it. It was the same voice I’d felt in Hollywood. The same voice I heard in Malibu. It’s the same voice that says: you’ll never be good enough! no matter how many times I say: you’re a liar.

I’m still learning how to fight this voice. I wasn’t able to shake it for the rest of the evening and the whole following day. So my memories of the visit are mixed.

I suppose this is a consequence of planning outings as escapes instead of actually making the meaningful life-changes that need to be made.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 12, 2019.

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