Day 24 & 25: West Cliff & Columbia

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Black is not a color most people would associate with beauty.

Black is the absence of all light. The absence of all color.

Most people would be wrong. Black is the canvas on which imagination, reflection, dreams come to life. Darkness allows beauty to shine.

The moon. The stars. No matter where in the world you are, you see them.

The exact same ones.

Our apartment is literally less than a half block from the water.

Our apartment is literally less than 100 yards from the ocean.

Our apartment is literally less than 100 yards from the Pacific [expletive] Ocean.

On weekends, we come out the front of our complex to go for a walk.

We take a left. There it is.

We can only have half of a conversation before we have to decide whether to go left or right.

Straight ahead are hundreds of birds: seagulls, pelicans, egrets – flying through the air or perched on the furthest rock from the cliff. Dozens of sea lions occupy the rock one position closer, barking like they’re talking to you. Another couple dozen of them swimming with the otters in the water a few meters below the top of the rock.

A couple hundred yards out into the ocean, dolphins. Porpoises. Swimming in a group, only breaking the water to show their fins. A few jump out of the water, putting on a spectacle.

Some clowns just love to put on a show.

Directly in front of you are yellow and pink flowers that have sprouted out of the green grass. They picked the most perfect place on earth to grow.

To the left is the lighthouse, a few hundred yards down.

If you walk down that way on West Cliff, just before the lighthouse is a flight of stairs. You take those steps down on to the coast.

It’s Beach. The dog beach. Anyone with a dog in Santa Cruz brings Fido, Rufus, Barkley, Sir Woofard of Wales down to the beach to run around. Play fetch. A hundred dogs on a sunny day. No exaggeration.

Walk down the beach to the right all the way  and you’ll reach the bottom of the rock cliffs. An arch made entirely off earth is the centerpiece. Through it, more ocean.

Pass the stairs and a few dozen steps will bring you to the lighthouse. Inside is a surf museum.

The spot is called Steamer Lane, for those familiar. The Lane. The best surfers in the world shred right there.

When the ocean is swollen, hundreds of them find their way into the water below. They scale the fence, the rocks, the cliff, and jump in with their boards. Lines of them.

Along the cliff hundreds of spectators line the fence, enjoying the sun, the breeze, the performance. This is as constant on Tuesdays as it is on Saturdays.

After close to 30 minutes, you turn around and head back down towards Columbia.

Santa Cruz is positioned on the north side of the Monterey Bay. The Pacific is along your left side as you walk, but due west is right ahead of you. That’s where you’ll see the sunset.

The colors. Those beautiful colors. In the spring and summer, it’s all warm. Reds, yellows, oranges. In the late fall and winter, it’s cooler. Blues, purples. No green.

100 yards from our door. 3,038 miles away. 3,159 miles away.

You couldn’t even be one foot further away. You couldn’t feel any closer.

The great thing about Santa Cruz is that most night skies are clear.

Pitch black.

On nights like this, we’ll walk to the end of our street and scale the rocks down on to the cliff. You can’t see the ocean, it’s too dark, but you can hear it. The waves crash against the very piece of earth you stand upon.

You feel the mist. You feel the power. Just a few feet beneath you.

You look up. Stars everywhere, as clear as can be. The moon so very bright, high in the sky, just left on the canvas.

You take a seat on the rock. You hold on to the earth.

You remember sitting on your stoop in the maze. You remember looking up and dreaming. Overcast usually, but some nights a couple stars could shine through.

You remember the sights, the sounds, the smells, the thoughts, the feelings, the dreams.

Now everybody got the game figured out all wrong.

Tonight, nothing but silence. Just the bark of the sea lions.

Tonight, nothing but darkness. Just the stars and the moon.

A single match. The lone flame begins to grow.

__

DAY 23: ON FLIPPING OVER THE DESK
DAY 22: STYLE
DAY 21: THE MAZE
DAY 20: HALFWAY
DAY 18 AND 19: ON THE BIRDCAGE
DAY 17: WHEN I SEE THIS BAR
DAY 16: DEAR MOM
DAY 15: IF I WON THE LOTTERY
DAY 14: ON CATS AND DOGS
DAY 13: ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS (PART 1)
DAY 12: MAKING MY WAY BACK TO CLEVELAND
DAY 11: ON FIRE
DAY 10: ON CONNOTATION AND DENOTATION
DAY 9: ON THE TIME I BROKE MY RIBS
DAY 8: ON THE FOUR UNDERSTANDINGS FOR A HAPPY LIFE
DAY 7: DEAR ERIC
DAY 6: ON WHY YOU’RE HAVING TROUBLE DATING IN YOUR 20′S, LADIES
DAY 5: ON SUNRISES AND SUNSETS
DAY 4: ON PARADISE
DAY 3: ON SMOKE AND WHISKEY
DAY 2: ON HOW CLOSE I WAS TO NOT EVEN GOING TO COLLEGE
DAY 1: WHY I’M WRITING EVERY DAY FOR 40 DAYS
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