Santa Monica Pier – Southern California – USA
Now that summer is here, I enjoy taking weekend walks along the beach. Hot, sunny days are infectious in Los Angeles. Residents gravitate towards the ocean. For my Sunday afternoon stroll along the Santa Monica Pier, I am prepared for the merciless heat: cap with visor, sunglasses, sunscreen, and water to stay hydrated. Sunlight makes my spirit soar and burns away the darkness. Under a clear sky, with the ocean stretching to the horizon, the world seems limitless. My spirit is free to roam.
Standing at the stone banister overlooking the highway below, I gaze at the pier and amusement park, and the expansive sandy beach that disappears into the ocean. In the packed asphalted beachfront parking lot, sunlight bounces off glass surfaces and stabs me in the eyes. The ocean sparkles like liquid diamond. Sunbathers litter the beach near the water’s edge.
The roadway to the pier descends at a 45-degree angle. Protective railings along paved sidewalks, flanking the access road, prevent visitors from plunging to the highway below. The descent is no problem; the upward climb punishes my knees. When the roadway ends, the surface changes to wide wooden planks secured with large bolts.
On the pier, the mass of bodies is not as dense as it appeared from above. There is lots of space to move freely without bumping into others. Sharing the same space, under the same sky, among people seeking sun and diversion makes me one with humankind. Families and friends pose for photographs: happy moments spent together frozen in time. We are all travelers on our journey through life.
I pass the war memorial: a “temporary cemetery” of red and white crosses aligned in neat rows across the beach to my right. I do not dwell on this tragedy of war, destruction, and needless deaths. Today, I want to enjoy being a part of Earth’s life-giving sunlight, air, and water.
The seafood restaurant near the entrance of the pier is a popular eating place. There are people waiting at the door for a table. Food stands offer churros, pretzel, popcorn, candy, funnel cake, ice cream, and more.
A sign advertises a photo with a Hollywood star for only $6.00. I look on as a young girl smiles for her photo next to a life-size standup poster of Justin Bieber. For another small fee, you can get your name carved on a grain of rice. An artist transforms the face of a young man into a humorous caricature.
Pacific Park dominates the pier with its giant Ferris wheel, rollercoaster, and other rides. Children scream. A helicopter chops the air overhead. A young man beats out a discordant rhythm on upturned plastic buckets and metal containers. A crowd gathers to watch him perform. Further ahead, a beautiful female voice, accompanied by recorded orchestra music, floats on the air.
I breathe in scents of ocean spray and grilled fish. Time lingers under a sunny sky at the beach.