Sal and I woke up early, egger to get the day started. The sun rays that peeked through the curtains shined in my face. I squint my eyes and role over in bed, only to find Sal smiling at me. He mouths good morning to me and I do the same, a smile spreads across my face matching his. We both stretch and get out of bed, we have a fun day ahead of us. It’s supposed to be almost 90 degrees, which is a nice change from the alaskan weather. Everyone in the house is still asleep, exhausted from the day before. When my feet touch the tile I welcome the cold that seeps into me. Staying in a house with no air conditioning is hard, especially when you are in California. I quickly learned to savor anything that is cold to the touch.
“Are you ready?' Sal looks over his shoulder, while he ties his shoes. I quickly shimmy my high waisted shorts on over my two piece, before I give him a thumbs up.
“Of course I’m ready. I’ve been waiting for you this whole time, weirdo.' I lean over and kiss him on the cheek, trying to be cool but failing miserably.
“Ya uh huh. Keep telling yourself that.' He playfully shoves me away but I’m too quick and slide away from his hands. “Let’s go,' he smiles a me.
We both quickly grab our things and head out the door. We are welcomed by his four dogs, tails wagging rapidly. We step over them and head towards the car. I take a moment while he loads the car to look around. The air was crystal clear today which was rare for Los Angeles. No smog making the sky look fuzzy. Not a single cloud in the sky, only the color of baby blue. I could smell the flowers, which had already been blooming even though it was winter. Everything was so beautiful. The small crowded houses, with their many different colors was pretty to look at. So different from where I grew up. You can hear the cars driving on the street over, traffic already turning into rush hour even though it’s nine in the morning.
“Let’s go babe.' Sal slides into the driver's seat turning the car on, AC blasting. I quickly slide in and buckle up.
“Hurry up, I want to go to the beach.' I whine at him.
“I’m going, chill out.' I pretend to act annoyed but my excitement gets the best of me. Sal smirks at my expression, he can read my face to easily. The beach has always been my happy place, the sand sticking to your body, the salt water smell, the beach hair, and the blazing sun is what makes me happy. The last time I went to a beach in California was two years ago, too long ago. The beaches in Oregon are beautiful too, but in a different way. The sand isn’t warm, the waves can be dangerous, the beaches aren’t groomed, and less crowded. Both types of beaches are beautiful in their own way.
“How long till we get there?' I turn to Sal and ask.
“About 40 minutes,' He looks over at me “don’t worry it’s worth the drive. I promise.'
I lean over and turn the music up, we both agreed earlier I was a throwback kind of day. And knowing Sal, being the overachiever he was, he had made a playlist at three in the morning. I don’t know how I didn’t notice him on his phone considering I was sprawled out across his body for the majority of the night. I turn the AC off and roll the window down welcoming the rush of air, my hair going every which way.
The free-way wasn’t too packed, especially the farther we went. My mind was completely at ease. I glance in the corner of my eye and look at Sal. His strong features were outlined in the sun. His golden skin glowing in the rays. It was like I was looking at something that came right from the movies.
“I know, I’m pretty handsome.' He gives me the look, I know I’ve been caught.
“I was actually thinking about how ugly you are and why I’m with you.' I raise an eyebrow at him, holding back my laughter.
“Stupid' he chuckles under his breath. Suddenly his cheerful look turns to confusion. I look at the road ahead and notice we are entering the Fast Track Freeway. “I thought I made sure th GPS avoided these highways.'
“Maybe they aren’t charging drivers today.' I scan the road and see very few drivers.
“They charge everyday babe. Don’t you guys have these freeways in Oregon?'
“Heck no, traffic never gets as bad as it does here.' I scrunch my face, the thought of paying to drive on a freeway foreign to me.
“Screw it. If I get a ticket I get a ticket.' He shrugs his shoulders, unbothered by the thought. He reaches for the radio and turns the music up. We both sing at the top of our lungs, sounding like dying cats. I look around at my surroundings and just over the houses roofs on the other side of the freeway I see the ocean. Excitement fills my chest and the biggest grin spreads across my face. We are here.
We take the next exit and make our way towards the ocean. A sign greets us “Welcome to Laguna Beach' I become restless, eager to put my feet in the sand.
“I just need to find parking, and that’s going to be an issue,' he scans the roads for street parking but cars are lined up bumper to bumper, “We may have to walk.'
“That’s okay babe, as long as we actually get to go on the beach.' I smile at him. I quickly go back to searching for a parking spot but after 10 long minutes we drive up the steep hill. We soon find a small area next to the curb and I see Sal scanning it, debating if he’ll fit.
“I think I can fit, what do you think?' He looks at me and I shrug my shoulders. “I’m just gonna park here then.' And sure enough we fit. He hop out of the car and grab the chairs, towels, and food. I look down the hill and pray that I don’t trip and fall down it. But the view beyond it is what motivates me to start walking. We quickly shuffle down the hill and reach the crosswalk, I’m already sweating from the heat from the sun shining on my face. I look at Sal and see him about to press the crossing button and I muster enough strength to sprint and beat him to it.
“You are an asshole.' He sticks his tongue out at me and I return the favor. “I can tell your excited.'
“Of course I’m excited,' The crosswalk signal turns green quickly, “quickly lets go!' I have jog cross the busy road, Sal jogging behind me. I hear him laughing at me, most likely because the kid in me is coming out but I don’t care. We reach the entrance of the beach I see the stairs, all one thousand of them. And they are steeper than the hill I just walked down.
“You go in front in case I fall I will have a cushion.' I push Sal in front of me, smiling trying to act innocent.
“Fine, ya big baby.' He begins walking down like it’s nothing, while I have my hand on the rail. I watch every step I make, some of them shouldn’t be considered steps. The concrete falling apart over the years of people trudging up and down them daily. The greenery surround the long staircase was beautiful. I was completely hidden in the shade thanks to the thick leaves and trees. About halfway I stop and look up. The view was gorgeous. The water was a clear blue, boaters boating around the shore, people laying out, actual dolphins swimming, and the sun shining above it all.
“Wow' is all I could muster to say. It was all breathtaking. I’ve never imagined seeing a beach like this in person. A few steps below Sal turns around smiling at me “C’mon. It gets better I promise.'
I reposition the chair over my shoulder and finish the walk down. And he was right. It was better. The moment I stepped on the beach the true beauty hit me. I’ve only dreamt of beaches like this. I step down from the last step and slide my birkenstock sandals off. The warmth welcomes me. I look around and notice the rugged cliffs that surround the beach and the caves on the other side. The way the sun hit the dark texture of the cliffs was breathtaking. Every jagged point was highlighted, sparkling form the rays of the sun. The houses hanging of the cliffs edges was also mesmerizing and scary beautiful. My smile continued to grow the entire time I took in this view. Sal was watching from a few feet away taking in my reaction. His signature side smirk plastered on his face. I look at him, fascination sparkling in my eyes.
“So what do you think?' He leans against the wooden railing next to the stairs.