A week or two ago, I realized that I deeply needed to be at the beach. This wasn’t some high-minded, spiritual revelation; it’d just been a rough week and I wanted to end it lying down with my toes in the sand, reading a good book in the December heat. This desire had swept over me pretty early in the week, and by Thursday (my Friday) I was ready to set out. I was going alone; I really just wanted the opportunity to exist and just breathe. Being around other people is great, but every now and then I just need some time alone. The problem here is that I’d never planned a solo journey before. Rather, I’d always been part of a trip someone else had been planning. This was to be my first self-planned trip.
I had all the logistics set up by early evening; I was planning to take a midnight bus to the coastal city of Manta. I packed up and called my uber at ten thirty. I was confident that I’d make it in time and be happily on the beach by morning. I was half right about that.
The doubts started to creep in when my uber driver asked if I had my tickets booked for the trip. It was a big holiday weekend, he said, and a lot of people were trying to get out of the city. I hadn’t quite connected those dots for myself, and I felt a little embarrassed to realize that it might have been a good call to make those reservations. Still, though, I waved away my worries; it’d all be fine. It had to be; I hadn’t just dropped ten dollars on an uber and spent the week dreaming of the beach only to stay in the mountains.
I arrived at the bus terminal at 11:15, with (theoretically) plenty of time before the bus was slated to leave. I went to the counter: every bus to Manta was full. Went to the next counter, heading to the smaller (but still coastal) town of Esmeraldas: all full. Puerto Lopez, Puerto Viejo, Atacames: all full. I wasn’t going to the beach.
I called my friend, upset. I explained that I’d had a rough week and asked if she could meet me on her roof in half an hour. She said yes; I caught a cab and picked up some snacks on the way. Sitting up on her roof, eating chips and complaining to each other about our final exams, I felt at home in a way I rarely had before. It made me realize that I didn’t need to run away to be happy; all I need is to be with my friends. I still love the beach, but I understand now that it’s not necessarily the solution to all of my problems. I can just talk, and exist, and remind myself to be present in the place where I am—because sometimes, that’s enough.
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<p>Hi! I'm a current junior at the University of Rochester studying the history of early modern globalization, with a specific focus on links between Asia and Latin America. When I'm not busy writing papers, you can probably find me lying down on the beach, soaking in the sunlight, and reading sci-fi.</p>