S A R I S H A K U R U P
The Senior Trip at my school has always been greatly mythologized. The character of each class seems to set the tone of the trip, and determine the sort of rumors and that linger back on campus. From my freshman year, I had been hearing about vodka snuck in in water bottles, boys who were stoned the entire trip, but also days simply lying by the beach and the pool, the freedom to wander into town. Watching the seniors come back every year, tan and smiling, it was always as though something vital had changed within them, some sort of happiness switch that had been flipped on.
As I sat on the bus early last Saturday morning, watching the arching and elegant landscape of California rush past me, I was hit with a distinct nostalgia. Nostalgia for my childhood, for all the days I spent growing into myself in this state, nostalgia for the present because I knew that this would be one of the best weekends of my life so far.
In my young life, I have experienced a lot of worry. Stress about my grades, college, about family, about friends. Anxiety about myself, my art. It is so rare for me to have an extended period of unadulterated bliss, but my weekend in Laguna Beach was exactly that. From the moment we raced out of the bus and shed our clothes as we raced down to the sandy shores of the Pacific, to the moment after breakfast when we climbed back onto the vehicle, I worried about nothing at all. I am aware of how rare and beautiful a weekend like that is, and I intend to always cherish this memory.
We spent the first day driving down to Laguna Beach, and then sitting by the ocean and the pool before a formal dinner. Something about the ocean has always drawn me, and I cannot imagine ever living somewhere without the ocean close by. (Coastal elite to the core!) My legs were raw by the evening from sand and crashing waves, but my senses felt so potent, the world around me so lush. Something about seawater awakens something within me, I have found.
The next day we went to Disneyland, a place that has never had much draw for me. Despite the fact that my parents took us on mutiple Disney vacations when I was younger, including a Disney cruise, I have somehow developed a distinct aversion to theme parks. Something about aimless people gorging on fatty foods, dressed in costumes that they are far too old for has always seemed odd to me. Besides, I have always felt that I would rather take my child to a museum than to a consumerist la la land dripping with fairytales that instill female inferiority and fanciful notions about the world. Still, there was something fun about lingering around with another writer friend of mine and people-watching.
On the final full day, I found myself breakfasting with friends at one of the three acai bowl carrying establishments we noted in Laguna: Banzai Bowls. I wasn't sure if it was just my romanticism, but somehow the acai bowl's proximity to the ocean there made it seem fresher, more authentic. I spent that day tanning and playing catch on the coastline, performing handstands in the pool, eating tacos by the hot tub, and wandering the town of Laguna Beach. It was a perfect day that I hope to never forget, down to the lobster mac and cheese I indulged in at dinner (at K-YA Bistro).
As a group of my friends and I sat around another set of acai bowls on Tuesday morning, we treasured that last hour we had together in this little paradise. Some of us spoke, some of us simply watched the ocean lap against the shoreline, trying to imprint the smell of the sea, the taste of fresh fruit, the feel of sand and salt on our skin into our minds forever.