Leaving My Comfort Zone

The journey continues. My specific journey has been up the coast of California to visit two of my great friends who live in San Luis Obispo. This trip has become an annual tradition since they moved a few years back. I always took a plane as it was always for a long weekend and wanted as little travel time as possible so we had more time together. However, as my boss pointed out, I had “a whole lot of paid time off left.” so I decided to use it to drive up the coast instead.

I spent the first day in San Diego, a place I have driven to numerous times. I visited some of my favorite places in town including my first visit to the beach of the trip. It would definitely not be my last visit. I always tell people I was born in the right state (Arizona native) because I love cacti and get cold as soon as the temperature drops below 75 degrees. However if past lives are real, I imagine mine lived on the beach, never went in the water, just enjoyed the sand. The water is far too cold, that’s the Arizonan in me. If I lived near the water, I would literally never get anything done because I would be walking up and down the beach every waking moment. As my time in the part of San Diego familiar to me came to an end, I looked up the next place I would want to visit. A beach, of course. I knew I also wanted to see the Torrey Pines area as I had been told it is beautiful. A quick Google search had me driving to Black’s Beach.

It is a beautiful beach against a steep cliff located near the iconic Torrey Pines Golf Course and University of California San Diego. As I parked my car and searched around for the way down the cliff to the beach, I ran into a local named Anthony clutching a skateboard with a Playboy bunny etched into the tread who was also trying to find the entrance. He said we should look together and then chill at the beach together. He had already mentioned that he looked forward to smoking on the beach, so although I knew I would not be chilling with him on the beach, we both appreciated the adventure of finding the entrance. When we did eventually find it, we then saw that we had another adventure ahead of us. The climb down to the beach. Why it had not occurred to either of us that there would be hiking involved when trying to get to a beach at the base of a cliff is beyond me, but we laughed a bit and started the climb down. It wasn’t bad, and I only slipped once which was a triumph itself as I did this while wearing Birkenstocks.

As we reached the base of the cliff, I noticed a man lounging in chair and he appeared to be naked. I thought maybe he was just wearing a speedo and from my angle I couldn’t see it. However, another thing Anthony said during our adventure at the top of the cliff then ran through my head. “I can’t wait to get down there and take my clothes off.” At the time I thought he meant just his shirt and cargo shorts, but now I knew better. I began to look in all directions and saw a variety of bodies, naked as the day they were born. Me in my shorts and tee was definitely like a scene in a movie where a character walks in and everyone starts looking at them as if they don’t belong. The only scene I can think of off the top of my head is from Carrie when Carrie first walks into the prom with Tommy. Anthony left my side to go set up somewhere and de-robe, and I decided this is where we part and I continued to walk up the beach.

I watched the sand between my toes as I was keeping my head down for the most part. I was acting like someone who had never seen someone naked before. I realized how I was acting and thinking was actually what was making me so uncomfortable. Is it ok to look at them? If I make eye contact will it be creepy? Is it ok parents are here with their little naked kids? Is everyone expecting me to get naked? How do they clean the sand from the crevasses? I then picked my head up and decided to embrace the moment. I locked eyes with a man playing frisbee with himself and we smiled friendly at each other and then just carried on our way. It wasn’t weird at all. Then I don’t know what come over me, maybe it was the heat from the hike or perhaps the pleasant breeze swirling all around me, but I decided the shirt had to go! I was like Carrie who decided to embrace the prom spirit and dance with Tommy. I wasn’t fearful of judgement at all as I normally am when I stare at the mirror in my bathroom at home. I loved my body, I loved the sand, I loved my confidence, I loved the breeze, and most of all I loved myself.

I finished my walk up and down the beach, which I knew had to be a quick one as I had not put sunscreen on those parts I did not think would ever feel the suns rays, and headed back towards the entrance. As I got there, I then felt like Carrie again as the horror of the cliff face stood before me. I realized that my decision to visit the beach (the prom) would not come without ugly consequences. Instead of ending up with blood all over myself and destroying everyone around me because I was not happy with my circumstances, I covered my top back up and ended up pushing my Birkenstocks to a new limit as I began my hike back up the cliff. As I climbed I took numerous breaks to “take in the sights,” but really I was just trying to catch my breath and give myself a pep talk about how I could do it. Hooray I finally made it! I was truly proud of myself not only for making it up the cliff, but also for everything that had happened in the last couple of hours. It set a great tone for the rest of the trip. I made a decision, it came with unexpected elements, but I embraced them and made the most of it.

So will I find myself at a nude beach in the future? You know honestly, it isn’t completely out of the question. I get why people like them. If the joy and high I felt in those few moments is something they get every time, well hand me a bottle of SPF 100 and let’s go!

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