When I was little, I loved going to the beach. As soon as we finished the short drive over the Santa Cruz Mountains, my sister and I would scramble out of the car — ignoring our parents’ pleas to put on sunscreen — strip down to our bathing suits, and race into the water. Swimming in the Pacific Ocean is no treat (at least in my book), but we could stay in that frigid water forever. I’d float in the waves for so long, I’d still feel like I was rocking in the water when I laid down in bed that night.

Freshman year of high school, the beach started to imply very different activities. Just a quick 20 minute drive from our campus, we’d bail on biology or field hockey practice to go stick our toes in the sand. On Fridays, a caravan of cars would trek out to 41st street, where the boys would chug cheap beer and the girls would sip at sickly sweet vodka drinks around the bonfire.

Last weekend, I went to the beach for the first time in what feels like forever. You forget how numb the stark city skyline makes you until you see that first glimpse of the ocean. We spent the weekend wandering the rocky coastline — our eyes peeled for otters and sea lions — and barbecuing fish for tacos. The weekend was such a testament to this strange, in-between time of my life I’ve found myself in — while we spent our nights drinking (still cheap) beer and dancing, I still found myself rushing out at the first hint of morning sunlight to stand in the sand and gaze at the endless water.

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