Greetings from Myrtle Beach, SC. Of all the miles of beaches in all the world, this is probably one of my least favorite vacation destinations. Too crowded, too commercial, too developed for my tastes. Plus I don’t play golf. And yet, the sound of surf, the smell of saltwater, the feel of ocean waves rushing over my toes and the magic of twilight among the tidal pools is still pretty wonderful.
There are people who love this place with a fierce passion. I’ve spotted many cars sporting northern license plates and decorated with multiple Myrtle Beach bumper stickers. Some families come here every year for generations. Many a teenaged heart has found rapture on this stretch of sand, only to be broken in a very short space of time.
This is my second visit. I was last here for spring break during my senior year of high school. Now that was an epic trip that I will not describe on this blog (just in case I ever decide to run for public office or find a way to use that material for a future novel). This trip was more of a last minute whim fueled by two factors: (1) a cancelled trip to Washington DC, and (2) my extended family is vacationing here this week.
I’ve heard it said that there are beach people, and then there’s everyone else. I say it’s not nearly that simple.
Right now I’m looking down at a beach full of vacation beach warriors. Beach warriors come prepared for an extended encampment. They lug chairs, umbrellas, tents, coolers and bags full of supplies over the beach access bridge so that the entire family can soak up every second of the sunniest hours on the beach without leaving. I am not a beach warrior.
There are beach apostles, people who sacrifice and build their entire existence around beach access. Often they struggle in poverty just to live near a beach. Not one of these apostles would trade their meager lifestyle for economic prosperity in the middle of the country. I am not a beach apostle.
There are writers, artists, athletes and even scientists of many specialties who have crafted careers–some lucrative, some not so much–out of a fascination with the coastal ecosystem. I’m a writer, and I would LOVE to write the sort of book that thousands or even millions of Americans take to the beach, but I don’t think I fall into this category either.
Fact is, I’m not sure I am a beach person. I do not feel a full-fledged, undying devotion to this one ecosystem above all others. But I do truly love the beach. I love the sunrise, often jumping out of bed much earlier than I ever would at home to watch the spectacle of a hazy red gumball emerging from the Atlantic. I love the beach at twilight, with all they hues of purple, gray, and blue closing in as the first stars start to twinkle. I love playing in the waves. I love walking along the tide and looking for treasures.
While sitting in the twilight, my guy asked me why so many writers are inspired by the ocean. I babbled something about the ocean being the creative cauldron that gave birth to all life and still bubbles with possibilities. The truth is, I don’t really have a good answer to that question. I love to be here, but the beach rarely inspires me to write.
There’s the tactical nightmare. I prefer to write on my laptop and the beach is not a safe place for a MacBook to hang out. I’ve managed to take my journal out to the beach to write every morning, but it’s not as romantic as it sounds. The sand, it gets everywhere! And the back of my neck is now an angry shade of red. Plus, there’s so many enticing things to pull me away from my own prose.
So, I will sign off for now. The surf and the gulls are calling for my attention.