Beach Run


I didn’t take this photo on purpose but my phone made sure to catch a few candids.

I can’t rightly say where the impulse came from; all I know for sure was that I became suddenly and profoundly obsessed with the idea of going for a run on the beach. Maybe it was last week’s outing to Santa Monica Pier. Maybe it was the result of my recent preoccupation with getting a change of scenery. Maybe it was the call of the wild gray ocean. Whatever the reason, the bottom line was the same: I was going to the beach.

My plan was to go on Saturday: get up early with the Curmudgeonly Lion and then head out while the sun was still low and traffic still light. This plan was thoroughly shattered by the arrival of a team of roofers at seven thirty to reshingle the house. So instead of running, I spent the morning huddled in the house listening to elephant footsteps from back and forth overhead, punctuated by a pneumatic nailgun and perfumed with the smell of hot tar.

Sunday, then. Sunday I would go fora run on the beach, I promised myself, and I was as good as my word. I drove out the canyon until the road met the ocean and found a place to park along the shoulder. The valley was sunny and warm, but here by the shore it was overcast and gray and I caught myself shivering as I schlepped along the Pacific Coast Highway in search of a place to get down to the beach.

I’m not much of a beach goer: the amount of sunscreen I need to avoid weeks of painful peeling skin takes all the fun and freedom out of beach going. So I don’t know the beaches in the area very well. I’d hoped to find a long stretch of sand- maybe a mile or two, where I could run along the waterline without worrying about getting lost. But the stretch of shoreline I chose turned out to be narrow and, in places, rocky, so I could only run a quarter mile or so at a time before I had to scramble back up to the road to navigate around a breakwater or a dining club or a luxury beach house.

Still, much to my astonishment, I made it as far as the terminal end of Sunset Boulevard before deciding I’d gone far enough. In spite of the scrambling and the traffic and the periodic encounters with the human drifters who inhabit the coast, I’d found the run quite pleasant. But after I passed Sunset I found myself asking what am I doing here? What was I hoping to find? Why had I come? Why was this so important?

The more I searched, the less answer I seemed to get, and I turned back feeling increasingly frustrated and lost (philosophically speaking, that is- I didn’t have any trouble finding my way back to the car). I drove home still looking for some sign to tell me why I’d been so drawn to the waterfront.

Just give me something to believe,” sang The Bravery from the radio. “I need something more, to keep on breathing for, so give me something to believe…

“Very funny.” I said to the universe at large.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 15, 2019.

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