It sounds cheesy to say the beach is your safe place – I realize this. Realistically, this is the answer every melodramatic teenage girl would give, or any uncreative twenty-something year old guy trying to score points with his current what’s-her-name of the week. But overlooking any stale clichés and overused romanticisms, I promise that I have a very good reason for this decision: several, actually.
First and foremost, the beaches of Half Moon Bay are not your normal, run-of-the-mill beaches with scorching hot sand, crisp blue waves and stretches of half naked sun worshipers as orange as Doritos: they’re cold. They’re really, really cold, so cold that most days you can barely muster the gall to even step foot in the water. And the wind – don’t get me started about the wind – it feels almost violent at times, pelting the sand across your face and clothes, blowing your hair every which way, forcing you to curl yourself into a tight, heat-conserving ball while you huddle on a blanket behind whatever rocky ledge you can find. I know, it sounds miserable, but it’s not: it’s perfect. Because in that moment you forget about how terrible your hair looks (and trust me, it looks awful), or how pasty your makeup has become, or how your clothes will reek of ocean smell as soon as you get back to the car. All you can see, all you can feel is that infinite ocean, the misty sky, and how so incredibly lucky you are to be in the presence of something so beautiful and so much more powerful than you will ever be.
Not convinced? What about the memories – the memories that can only be enhanced by the grandeur of Half Moon Bay. How about the time that my boyfriend surprised me with a horseback-riding excursion across the beach: the moment was magical, like something from a sappy love story that I’d never read, and yet even my emotionally-devoid self couldn’t deny the perfection of it all. Sure, the surprise alone was sweet and romantic, but the fact that it was at the beach – that we saw nothing but steady, rippling waves and golden sand for miles into the distance – made it simply unforgettable. And then there were the photo shoots: photographers throughout the San Francisco bay area always seem to flock to Half Moon Bay, desperate to snap photos of skinny girls in clothes no one would think of wearing to the beach, and I have been one of those girls more times than I can count. Most of us hate it – donning a tiny dress in the middle of a rainy beach, all the while trying to look aloof or fierce – but for me, moments like that make me feel alive. Every single hair on my body is standing on end, the rain is sprinkling across my face, and while everyone else is setting up lights or stabilizing reflectors, I get to frolic through the waves and dance across the sand feeling free and connected with nature. In that moment, I’m able to team up with my majestic surroundings and try to create art, and let me tell you, the beach always upstages me.
So, there you have it: my love affair with Half Moon Bay. She’s a bit cold-hearted, somewhat unpredictable and has a raging temper, but she’s certainly a stunning sight to see. I can never forget her: her primal, untouched elegance, the moments she’s helped me create with the people I care for, and the art she has allowed me to craft. Even though she may have frozen my fingers or ruined a few pairs of shoes, I will keep coming back to her: I guess I’m just a sucker for her strength and beauty.
(Photo by Martine Pinnel, Hair & makeup by Cynthea Amnatkeo & Desiree Cerda)