In the depths of downtown, the valley or even Beverly Hills, it’s easy to forget LA is a beach town. When I first moved here and I was scouring the lay of the land to figure out where I wanted to live, I made the decision of being as close to the surf as my salary would allow. Yet, I take advantage of the beach far too rarely.
Beaches the world over, from the über populated umbrella forests of Rimini to the black sand Costa Rican beach where I was the only human being, from city beaches like Cape Town to remote stretches the locals don’t even visit, like in Samoa or Tonga, all beaches share the same calming qualities of soothing ocean sounds and the welcoming embrace of salty water.
The beach is where I drove to today, to escape the relentless heat a few days ago I wrote it hadn’t hit us yet. Well, it’s here in all its glory and misery. And, while lying on the warm sand, listening to the waves loud enough to drown the sound of the Pacific Coast Highway just behind, if not of the stupid helicopters flying at impossible lows, I observed, in between naps, the peculiarities common to all Malibu beaches:
- No matter how high your self-esteem and how in shape you think you are, it’s astounding to see how many beautiful people can surround you at one given time. There will always be someone thinner, tauter, more sculpted and definitely more blonde. The amount of tattoos on display is also larger than the tattoo catalogue I flicked through in a Miami parlour when, briefly, very briefly, I flirted withe the whole tattoo idea. For equal opportunities bodies, better stick with Venice and Santa Monica.
- The guy performing cartwheels on one hand over and over and over to show off his athletic prowess to all and sundry was amusing only to himself as everyone else was too self-involved to notice.
- Dogs are never allowed on the beach, although smuggling Ottie off-season is easy enough, when there are no lifeguards. The people who were hiding behind a wooden fence adjacent to a beach house, their dogs in tow, were definitely ingenious but not invisible. The lifeguard decided not to care, possibly thinking they were all residents. Good tip for Ottie and me – find a beach house where we look like we belong and just sit in front of it while he dips his paws in the water.
- Surfers are part of the panorama. They get disgruntled with interfering beach goers who dare swimming in their path and they like to strut their wares coming out of the water, even if they are 50, balding and heavily padded around the waistline, as if they were a breed apart. Still, they belong to the horizon line I stare at while sitting on the sand and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
- Right there, in the shallow water, among the rocks, there was a huge starfish for everyone to admire. A few steps along the shore, a humongous sea-snail was enjoying lunch while crab-like creatures were scurrying around the bright green algae. To remind all of us taking pictures, posers, beach babes, surfers and occasional tan seekers that, after all, the beach is about the wildlife, the rhythm of tides and impermanence – not so much how big our tattoos are.