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Blue in Malibu
By Caitlin Kennedy
In the summer of 2017, I found myself sitting in the warm sands of a secluded beach in Malibu. The sun was setting and the term “Golden State” took on its most literal meaning, with the beach bathed in golden light and warmth gripping me like an embrace. I listened to the waves crash against the shore and watched the deceptively chilly waters of the Pacific slide back and forth over the tide line. I wondered what it would feel like to just slip away. To lay back in the cold waters and just disappear in the tide.
Not a good feeling.
In the months leading up to that summer, I had been in a silent battle for my life in sunny Southern California. I had left everyone that I knew and loved. The half-cocked decision to go to law school had left me feeling broken. Everyone back home had so many questions about my life in “paradise”. They envied the beach selfies and the cool restaurants and the casual photos in West Hollywood. I was grasping for some sparse sense of joy, to keep my head above water because I was drowning.
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy”
Summer is supposed to be carefree, when you’re a student. Summer in California is supposed to be golden perfection. My body was in the warm sand and enjoying the sun’s kisses, but everything that was internal was floating dead out in that cold Pacific water.
In the summer of 2018, I am slipping into the cool, welcoming waters of a swimming pool and letting it lap the sweat away from my body. Summers in Austin are like a fresh lover. It’s hot, you’re gonna sweat, and he’ll wear you out. I love it. A lot can change in a year. You can find yourself. You can get your priorities straight. You can abandon a dead-end life that is slowly killing you and make a living writing and look forward to starting a fresh, exciting life with great loves old and new.
People look at the person that was blue in Malibu and the person I am now and they don’t see much of a difference. Smiling face still bathed in golden light. But the difference between the two is massive. There is the artificial and the truthful. The happiness that is about as useful as a Malibu postcard. It looks pretty, it promises warmth but it is just a flat thing. The truth is knowing that something did slip away, lifeless in those Pacific swells and it wasn’t you (the way you thought it would be). It was the notion of being sentenced to a life that was counterproductive to your happiness and sense of purpose.
Now, floating under the dizzying heat, I am weightless.