Developing the New Normal

Alleviate and Heal

Developing the New Normal
Photo captured by Gray Peters

I dream of better days with warmer skies. The lack of human interaction causes my mental health to drain, creating a biome of thoughts I'm desperate to escape from.

The moment I’m able to break free from my living room safely the first thing I do is buy a plane ticket. With such a strong desire to be near the ocean, at this point I won’t even mind claiming a middle seat. Walking past isles of people just as eager to take off as I am, I pack my bags away and excitedly take my seat on the soft cushion and plug in my headphones. With butterflies running through my body, the song ‘Heart It Races’ by Dr. Dog flows through my ears as I think to myself “This is what happiness feels like.”

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As I smell the breeze of salty air and feel the hot sand devouring my bare feet, a smile paints my face. Not the pathetic and forced smile I flashed at my mother when she asks how I’m doing on day.. Seventeen? Eighteen? Of self-quarantine. Only a rare and genuine smile that appears without thought. Palm trees tower over large portions of the beach but in the water with the sun’s rays shining on my face is where I belong.

I look to my left at the waxy surfboard next to me. For me, surfing was much like a toddler learning to walk; wobbly and taking lots of tumbles. Although I’m no expert, on a surfboard enclosed by waves is where my soul feels at peace.

After a long day of falling through crashing waves I sit on my board surrounded by calmer waters as I watch the orange sun sink into the coast, coloring the sky soft shades of pink. With my feet kicking in vast blue, I stick my toes up to peek at the tan line caused by my anklet. This is it. The last few months have been a struggle as I fought for a desire to keep breathing. I’m thankful to have had a safe home to shield me from the pandemonium taking over the world but I craved for my mental health to be more grateful for that too. What a drag it can be when it feels like your mind is out to get you, but this is the pure and utter happiness that makes me feel so relieved to be alive. This moment, here and now, was what I held onto while in isolation. I dreamed of this feeling for so long.

With the sky getting darker by the minute, I paddle back to shore in no rush and throw on my ripped shorts and oversized tee shirt. I lay there on the soft, white sand for just a moment more. Now cooler, it felt soothing on my toasted skin. “I’m going to live here someday.” I think privately as I finally force myself to get up and go.

I drag the long and damp board behind me as I pass signs that read ‘Ventura Beach’. I hop into my roofless Jeep and head toward the exit of the parking lot. The crisp breeze kisses my face as I drive around this small beach town. I glance up at the big, bright moon already making its appearance in the rising night sky, this too is possibly one of the best feelings I could ever place in my mind.

Photo by Labella

I pull up beside an ordinary pizza parlor with the rest of my family huddled inside sharing laughs. There was nothing special about this restaurant or their pizza, we stopped there hungry and on impulse the first time we ever took a road trip to Ventura and it became a silly little tradition. A small flush of guilt runs through me for making them wait so long due to my dawdling but no one seems to mind. A mixed scent of greasy but savory slices and the saltwater still on my damp hair fills the air around us.

When we arrive at our Airbnb on the beachfront, the rest of the night consists of reconnecting conversations and cheesy pay-per-view movies. My heart feels whole here.

Photo captured by Gray Peters

There are many places I aspire to travel, some more exotic than others. I desire to hike the Swiss Alps, explore the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, sail through the crystal waters of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand or surf the Gold Coast in Australia. Although I dream of greater travels, right here in this little California town is where I feel content. I’ve learned to appreciate the snowy mountains of my hometown in Ogden, Utah but I don’t often feel as if it's where I belong.

I dream of better days with warmer skies. As I write in the chilly winds beside those purple mountains, I may not be there now, but I’ll get there soon. In the meantime, I send my gratitude to the universe and hope for a healing Earth.

female travel
gray peters
gray peters
Read next: Camping > Hotels
gray peters

Traveler, learner, videographer, writer, lover

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