Seeing the view of the ocean as I walk from downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea to Carmel Beach is a sight to behold. It was the first time in a long time since the COVID-19 pandemic that I ever visited a beach. Wind movements rippled through my hair as the sound of waves quietly rolling grew closer as I began to walk on sand.
It felt strange to be in a public place for enjoyment after being sheltered in my home for a year. I remember being in Portland, Oregon when the pandemic first started on my birthday away from school. The world as we knew it had changed so much, it is hard to see how our way of life had changed for everyone.
Looking towards the parking lot, incoming cars filled with families were filling up the parking spots quickly. Families with young children and dogs were entering the beach. Thankfully, my family and I did not have to deal with parking as we traveled from the downtown area of Carmel.
As I began to remove my boots, I saw a California Scrub Jay near the dune bushes. They were on the sand in the undergrowth of the dunes, appearing to look at humans passing by before going back into the bushes.
The feeling of sand from Carmel Beach is very different from the feeling of the rough sands of San Francisco. It was much finer, smooth, and did not stick to your feet easily. Seaweed and small rocks were littered across the shoreline with dried driftwood further on the sand. Sadly, there were no seashells or sand dollars on the shoreline like the beaches in San Diego did.
Viewing my surroundings, there were lots of people enjoying their time in Carmel. Families and couples were walking around as the beach was littered with dog prints molded in the sand. There seemed to be no limit or restrictions on the number of people visiting the beach as long as they wore a mask and stayed six feet apart.
Walking closer to the ocean, I grew more chilly as the slight wind blew in my face. Aqua green waves were quietly rolling up on the shore with little sea foam on them. My feet soon became wet as it met the small oncoming wave, but the sensation was not cold. It felt refreshing to get my feet wet, being deprived of the Pacific Ocean in quarantine.
As I walked along the shoreline, I felt grateful for the experience to travel for my 18th birthday to Carmel-by-the-Sea and to visit the beach. The pandemic taught me to appreciate the moments we have in life because things can change very quickly within a year and we may never see our family and friends again.
I walked in between where the ocean waves reached its highest point on the sand and then receding. My footprints left behind are the temporary imprints of mine that remind me that I once was there. They may be gone forever now but the memory of it will be ingrained in me.