the ocean was calling…

To ditch the chores and hug the shores we decided to hit the coast for the weekend. Although there were so many hurdles that came in our way. I knew that the ocean was calling, and we had to go 🙂

We were scheduled to leave on Friday afternoon, but Tara’s doc appointment was moved to 2pm on Friday, and then Agam was leading a release that got delayed and he was at work until 6:30pm. Now I don’t like sitting through traffic, so we decided to leave early on Saturday morning. Of course that ruined my plan of two sunsets in Asilomar.

At 10:00am the next day we were at the Santa Cruz Harbor, where we took a pit stop at Java Junction for what was going to be a quick bite and some coffee. But the mood at the harbor and it’s adjoining area was way too alluring, and we ended up staying longer than we expected. The sun was perfect, and the group of oldies playing beautiful songs from the 60s and 70s were too cute.

I can totally see myself retiring in Santa Cruz. I wish it was a tad bit less hippie though. I get grossed out by tattoos everywhere. I am quite old fashioned. I know. As Agam said today, you were 30 when everyone else was 15! Seriously?! Anyway, who cares. I really really really want to live by the water when I am done with this rat race. Funny enough, I don’t even compete in this race. But for whatever it’s worth, I am part of the machinery, and I know I won’t be for all my life. So one day when Tara goes to college and the house is paid off, we should wrap up this madness, and go live by the water, and write. Agam’s thoughts on the matter – “it’s definitely appealing.” He’s a man of few words. I keep compensating for him :P. But FWIW, the last time he said “it’s definitely appealing”, was when I said, let’s sell Granada and buy something else that is more close what we want for at least the next fifteen years.

Back to our trip, because if it was left to me, I’d be setting up an alert on Zillow for houses in Santa Cruz, right now. Next, we drove to the Barnyard in Carmel Valley for lunch, enjoying the beautiful sweeping views of the Monterey bay. Sigh! I love this part of California. It is so calming, and refreshing. Tara and I enjoyed the strawberry fields, the parachutes in the sky and the wild flowers everywhere. Sur at the Barnyard was a delight. A must try if you are in the area.

After lunch we drove to our final destination for the day, Asilomar Hotel and conference grounds. It’s a run down, but serene, and scenic resort, right on the water, with rooms with tall wooden ceilings. It is far from the maddening crowds and has a small cafe, and a dining hall (with limited opening hours) and a social hall and a few fire pits for bonfires.

Agam and I had been sleep deprived, so an afternoon siesta was top on our list of weekend delights. Tara was disappointed, but eventually she too napped after a few rounds of pillow fights. In the evening we took one of the wood paved trails to the beach and built sand castles, took long walks, and enjoyed our first sunset of 2019! It was beautiful and cold. And also magical. The white sand in Asilomar is much like powdered snow. So Tara and I had our make believe snow castles to boast off 😀

After our dinner, while Tara chewed her meal, Agam and I played Goblets, a board game we borrowed from the hotel. It was fun and we ended up in a tie. Seated right next to us were some very noisy and fun loving members of a photography club from Palo Alto. Now that’s what I’d like to do when I am older. I gave up on photography after Tara was born. The group was loud and quite hilarious. So we chatted with a few of them before retiring to the room for a peaceful night’s sleep.

In the morning we drove to Red House Cafe for breakfast and then lingered around in Bookworks, the cutest book store + coffee shop there can be, in Pacific Grove. Of course we bought some books – Agam and I got excited to see a new title from Oliver Sacks – The River of Consciousness. I read a few pages and got hooked. Tara spent some time picking her books and then we decided to drive back to Santa Cruz and check out the Tide Pools at the Natural Bridges State Park.

Agam and I took turns to hike up the rocks and go see the tide pools. Tara wasn’t going to climb with us. I went first and since I was in my Tom’s there was no way I was going to climb with them. So I left them at the beach, and climbed barefoot. Oh the joys of exploration. The tide pools were fascinating. The little crabs inside them and the snails, with weird coral like formations was all so beautiful. I spent some time exploring the area and enjoyed the breeze and sweeping views of the beach. Although the hike up and back was not so demanding, I felt a personal high. Me, climbing rocks, barefoot – yeah that does not happen as often.

Meanwhile, Tara enjoyed the fresh stream of water that runs along the rocks and played in it for a while. We saw the time and were alarmed at how long we had been there. From there we made a dash to Abram’s bday party. I always feel home with my sweet punju family 🙂 After the guests had left, a warm cup of coffee with the family, and watching the kids play together, made me all nostalgic. Nitin and Agam were hostel mates in IIT D and we have been friends ever since. From drunk lohri parties in IIT to sober, birthday parties in Sunnyvale, we have come a long way. And the fact that our kids are such close friends, makes it so special.

On our way back, Tara asked me , why do I love the ocean so much. Here’s why – when I stand before the ocean, I become small. My problems, my dilemmas, my challenges become small. I become part of something bigger. Something that has withstood the test of the times. Something that knows what I don’t. I become the grain of sand, in front of the big and wide ocean. I dissolve my identity, my ego, and my preferences.

I come to meet this force that I cannot reckon with. A force so powerful, and yet to calming. I like being in the presence of such a force. I feel protected. I feel safe. I feel like a child who will be taken care of. I feel warm in its company and loved in its presence. I feel like I can be myself and not be judged by it. I feel like the ocean will transform me. It will chisel the dirt, the cobwebs, the sharp edges, and morph me into a better me. I go to the ocean to start afresh. I surrender to it, and accept what I become in it’s presence. The ocean propels me forward, with a little bit more clarity, more patience, more understanding and lot more energy.

I hope one day she asks me why I love the waves 🙂 I know she will.

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