I was born in California. I did not, however and contrary to what most people seem to think when I tell them this, live near the ocean. There were very few beaches in my childhood, as a matter of fact, but there were enough to instill in me a lifelong love of the sea and “big water” as I often call it. Does that make the ocean a kink of mine? I think not, though I have done a lot of kinky things by the sea. And it’s not only the ocean, it’s any big body of water, although I by far prefer the sea.
I was born in the Bay Area, but not anywhere near the water. I spent the first 7 or 8 years of my life in one or another of the nondescript, endlessly sprawling, “bedroom communities” of San Francisco. (That’s not as sexy as it sounds like it should be.) My middle childhood was spent moving further and further from the Bay Area, as my mom – now divorced from my dad and remarried – sought to deny my real father access to me (he also lived in the Bay Area.) She and my stepdad mostly succeeded. I only saw him every other Saturday and a week in summer anyway, until they moved us about as far away as they could without crossing state lines: up into the Sierra Nevada Mtns., near Reno, Nevada. From the time we moved there, when I was 12, until he died when I was 15, I only saw him a handful of times. I think them taking me away from him (he had very little expendable income to be able to come visit me) broke his heart. But the “damage” was already done: all of my political views, my feelings about how we should treat each other, our responsibility to the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable, my insistence on treating people with kindness and compassion, all came from him.
And my love of the sea.
The times I spent with him we spent exploring the California coast, beach camping and beach combing, roaming the Oakland Foothills and delighting in the found art on the Emeryville Flats, hiking in the redwoods on the Mendocino Coast and smelling the eucalyptus in Golden Gate Park, hanging out at the Berkeley Pier with the fishermen and listening to the sea lions at Seal Rock. He lived in Berkeley, across the Bay from San Francisco, and once he had sparked the love of the water and the outdoors in me, he kept that spark well-fed.
One of my fondest memories is waking up at Half Moon Bay to the sound of the sea lions and fog horns. We had camped that night in the back of his truck, as we often did, and to this day that sound draws me back to my childhood. I re-enacted that scene years later, quite by accident, with Ad, when we drove up the coast in a mini-van and were forced to overnight at Half Moon Bay due to fog. We slept in the back of the van on an air mattress. I had planned the trip that way, though not the stop at Half Moon, and in fact we were so tired and frazzled from the steep cliffs and switchbacks in fog so thick we couldn’t see past the hood of the van that I had not realized where we had stopped. It was only upon being woken by those sounds that I realized where we were.
I have other memories of the ocean, of the beach — so many. A favorite is introducing my ex to California before we were even married. We were driving in that long, open stretch of road near Hearst Castle. The road is farther off the coast than it is elsewhere, separated from the sea by empty fields where cattle grazed and the occasional house hunkered down – it’s a constantly windy area. I don’t know what bug I had in my bonnet, but when there was a side street that turned toward the ocean, I insisted we drive down it. I had to be by the ocean, if only for a few minutes (I think we were working our way inland at that point, to pick up my son from his deadbeat dad.) He obliged me, and eventually we got to a place where the road dead-ended on a bluff overlooking the ocean. “Come on!” I said, hopping out of the car. The pasture in front of us was barred with a barbwire fence, but there was a footpath that ran across the pasture toward the cliffs, so clearly others had been here. To hell with private property!
He was…dubious. Reluctant. But soon I had cajoled him to join me and off we set across the headland. After walking a short way I became less certain that the path was human-made, though, as the only other walkers we saw were slow, ambling, black and white cows, but the path eventually, just as I had supposed it must, forked, with one path turning down to the cliffs. We took the left fork and scrambled and slid a good way down the cliff, before we found a little sheltered spot where we could sit and watch and listen to the surf crashing below. After a few minutes I leaned over and started kissing him…and then, before he knew what hit him, his zipper was down and I was straddling him, right there on the cliff. He ended up turning me over – a precarious activity – and thrusting into me, banging my head against the cliff wall and grinding sand between my butt cheeks. That’s when I learned the not-so-sexy side to sex at the beach, but I didn’t mind.
As soon as we had caught our breath and adjusted our clothes, we headed back up to the top – to see more than just cows on the path. There were at least half a dozen people and dogs about, walking the path. I snuck a peek down the cliff-path, but never knew if we had been visible to them.
So again, is it a kink? Probably not in the true sense of the word. But it damn well is something I don’t think I could live without.
PS – I actually have many Scavenger Hunts by the sea or the water of some sort, and I had intended to post a few as accompaniment to this piece, yesterday, as my SH TBT…but I got mired in looking through them and couldn’t do it. Baby steps, right?
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