24 Jun San Clemente Dreamin’
I’ve been lucky enough to live near the ocean my whole life. I forget this sometimes. I don’t mean to, but once something has been there for so long it’s inevitable that it becomes a part of you. You can’t picture your life without it. That’s how I’ve always felt about the ocean.
I didn’t grow up super close, about 45 minutes away in a Boston suburb. I would skip my last period class and speed to the beach to try to get a half hour of surf in before the sun went down. Winters in New England can be brutal, but the flat spells in the summertime are worse. So you take advantage of the surf when it shows up. Even if it’s 20 degrees out and gets dark at 4pm.
Just for fun I counted the different places I’ve lived in Southern California over the last 15 years: Solana Beach, Encinitas, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Laguna Niguel, and Dana Point. In some cases, multiple moves in each place, but it wasn’t until my third year living in Dana Point that I struck gold. I found a Master bedroom with a private entrance, walking distance to the beach in the Pier Bowl in San Clemente. This place had everything. Outside shower for after a surf, ocean views from the living room….I had found my little slice of heaven. Of course, if it sounds too good to be true……
I quickly found out what I would trade in exchange for living life steps from the beach.
To give you an idea, it was a three bedroom apartment in a four unit building. The top floor was the two bedroom penthouse, and was only rented out by the week in the summertime. The other units were occupied by various people at different times. My favorite was the 60 something, pothead burn out who played drums in a local band. Tons of fun listening to drum equipment being unloaded on the floor above your room at 3 am. But it was all worth it to be able to wake up, run down to the beach and go for a surf. I’d dreamed of doing that on a regular basis my whole life, so I was willing to put up with anything. Well, almost anything.
I rented the room from a 20 something waitress who, I came to find out later, liked to party. Right after I moved in, the third roommate moved out, so we put an ad in craigslist to fill the spot. Otherwise, we were on the hook for the rent. We ended up finding a great roommate in a Jersey girl who was out in SoCal to pursue a career in writing for the surf industry and started an internship at one of the local mags. She fit right in and I’m stoked to say she and I are friends to this day. Unfortunately, she had to move out shortly after we had all gotten to know each other well. After that, it was one big long parade of koo-koos from Craigslist. I can’t say I’m really surprised, but man, trying to justify the bullshit with proximity to the beach was getting hard.
The third floor balcony was my sanctuary. Almost every night for the two years that I lived in that apartment I climbed the stairs to the top balcony to shoot the sunset. It was such an amazing view. You could see all the way down to Dana Point and on clear days you could make out the headlands near Avalon on Catalina Island. It was magical. I could go up there after having a bad day and just wash it all away. And even though I was shooting in the same location and basically the same scene, it looked different every time. I learned a lot about capturing sunsets up there, and also on evening walks down to the pier.
The rest is a long story and ends in misery (me moving out of SC), so I won’t go into it. If you’re ever in a good mood and want to get out of it, I’ll tell it to you. But, despite the brutal ending, the crowds, the drunks, the traffic, getting blockaded out of my apartment by the cops on 4th of July, and the endless train of batshit crazy roommates……I had a great time in San Clemente.