This road-trip was one of those drives that made me feel utterly thankful to be alive, and left me without words.
About two hours in to the drive south towards our destination, the first hints of dawn emerged, but this wasn’t the usual I was accustomed to. I had managed to fall asleep for a short while at the start of the journey, but was awoken by the van’s twists and turns on the very narrow road the driver was going 60 on. I could very clearly make out the unevenness of the road by the constant bobbling and my head knocking against the window as I leaned against it to try to fall back asleep, unsuccessfully. Because I sat myself sideways on the seat, I could see my brother still dozing off on the other side of the row we were in when I slightly opened my eyes. We were in the very back of the van, with my mom and sister seated in the middle row, while my dad sat shotgun with the driver in the front.
Before this, road-trips more or less have always felt the same. My family used to frequently have road-trips up the central coast of California to San Francisco. I used to enjoy them so immensely as a younger child that often, I couldn’t even sleep the night before we’d leave because I was too excited. Somehow, growing older had tarnished that feeling. I hate saying that I’d become jaded but I did. It’s a feeling that I now miss having, but not one that’d I’d expect to ever feel again until I was pleasantly surprised by this particular drive.
It was still humid, despite it being air-conditioned and five in the morning. Every breath felt as if an extra effort was required—living required the extra effort. But I would soon realise that living is sometimes worth all the effort put in to it.
The glass on the car window felt warm against the skin on my back. It contrasted with the air vents that brought the much needed relief with such a climate. I turned face-forward to see the back of my mom’s head and hair pulled back. Light barely began to make its way in to the dawn sky, and whatever found its way inside the van seemed to glisten with a rustic shine when it greeted a few strands of my mom’s red hair.
But what immediately stole my attention was when the thick wall of trees that had been lining the right side of the road began to suddenly cease in small, infrequent patches, and revealed what it had been hiding on the other side. It was a tease—seeing its turquoise-blue hue I had never seen before for a split second, and then having the green wall return back in to the view almost instantly.
But the wall wouldn’t have its way and the thin patches themselves soon ceased, finally exposing the morning sea but not yet its full grandeur, as I’d quickly find out.
The road ahead became comfortably smoother as if it were in concert with the transformation happening outside. The sky had been growing ever so faintly rose in colour to welcome the sea, which seemed to smile back, blushing in aqua-green, emerald hues whose glistening intensified gradually as if to respond. The car window was blurry from the dirt from the road but still I could witness the morning embrace.
From the window dashboard I could see the road swerve to the right, giving the sensation that the van was headed directly to sea. It mesmerised and now became light enough outside to perceive the water’s clarity in the sea gently lapping up against the short seawall. This wasn’t the cold seas with violent waters that crashed against the shore as if out of natural rage; this wasn’t the grand enigma the ocean has always poised itself to be. This was paradise’s waters, transparent and harbouring no mystery to those who stumble and are welcomed by it.