Ron Walker: Beaches I have known
Back when “working on a tan” was an imperative, Santa Monica and Malibu beaches were the obvious choices for a student at Hollywood High. Then the Magellan in me surfaced. With an ample supply of Royal Crown cola, I gather my best-friends together and we head to Laguna Beach. There are no freeways, instead we meander through fields of berries and orange groves. Just beyond Aliso Creek we chance to see a secluded stairway leading through a maze of foliage. It takes us to a crescent shaped beach. We claim it as ours.
Waves roll in, crash and slide sheepishly back to the ocean. We set up camp in an alcove. Once the grub is stacked and a fire pit is dug, we all go our own way.
With fishing rod in hand, I stake out a portion of a section of rocks. A spanking breeze hits me head-on as I set my feet solidly on two rocks and cast my line out. Waves smash themselves on the rocks, sending salty spray high into the air. A tug on my line; “a whopper for sure,” but simultaneously my foot slides off the rock and I slip into an oncoming swell. I am now at the mercy of a moving mass of water. Within seconds the water recedes. I float past an enclave of razor-sharp mussel shells. I grapple my way onto a dry, solid surface. The whopper is gone, but I’m still alive.
Years later, I embark to wintry, sleepy, Bondi Beach in Australia. I’m a choreographer. I’ve chosen to secret myself in a hotel room with a bathroom just down the hall. Living across from a ghostly promenade in off season is pure bliss. For excitement I join the more hardy souls at a lonely milk-bar for a cappuccino. Vegas is a world away, which was my intention.
In just one day, Orllyene and I journey with six girl dancers and a adagio act from Milano to Priano on the Amalfi coast of the Mediterranean. We are billeted in a dinky apartment that thinks itself a villa. Jabbed into a hillside, grape vines, lemon and olive trees keep us from sliding into the sea. We have hot water for one hour a day; another way of life, another culture.
Monte Carlo’s Beach is horrible. Nothing but roly-poly stones and nary a grain of sand.
Year after year I return to Paradise Island, Bahamas, for reasons of choreography. Sometimes I walk along a hump of sand between the Ocean Club and the Cabaret Theatre to rehearse. The water is so clear, you can’t tell where it stops and the sand begins. In the morning, the Britannia Beach is my wakeup stroll of choice. The air is flush with the aroma of flowers, and damp enough to know you are in the tropics.
All beaches are a connection with nature. They bring us as far as the sea, and from there it’s our choice of what is next. For me, just being on a beach is plenty.
Ron Walker can be reached at email@example.com.