When we embarked on the road trip I decided I needed to be at the beach on my birthday, it’s a grounding place for me. A reminder of the circle of life as I almost drowned as a kid when a wave washed me off a rock and I got caught in the undercurrent. You would think that after an experience like that that I would be fearful of the ocean but for some reason, that trauma never manifested into a lifetime of fear. Instead, it’s a place of peace and contentment.
I wasn’t looking forward to that first birthday without Auntie Boogie to celebrate with through our traditional phone call and song. It’s painful to know you will never share your birthday again with someone you shared it with your whole life and that first one looms large like storm clouds. You know the storm is coming but no amount of shelter can protect you from the fierce gale about to blow through and the accompanying golf ball-sized hail pelting everything in its way.
And so, on the morning of October 24th, we drove to Moonlight Beach, discovering upon arrival that they were having a festival. It was like they knew I needed a party. We got there early enough to get parking in the parking lot and to find a spot under one of the umbrellas.
I buried my feet in the sand, just enjoying the tiny grains enrobing and cooling my skin while Chaz wandered down to the water to take pictures and enjoy the sand and surf…and multitude of seagulls – I always forget how many seagulls inhabit Encinitas until I’m there. When I was ready, I walked down to do the same. There was ample time for us to people watch from under the thatched umbrella. Before we left to meet a high school friend for lunch, we strolled along the circuit of tents, surveying the variety of merchandise and services on display. My favorite was the skateboard art – I’ve always been fascinated with skateboard and surfboard art.
Later on, we met some of my band friends for dinner and to see Dead Man’s Party (the Oingo Boingo tribute band) for their Halloween show. If you aren’t from SoCal or don’t know the history here, Oingo Boingo was a huge part of the culture through the latter half of the 70s, the 80s, and the first half of the 90s and they did shows on Halloween. I was never able to see a Halloween show or see them live at all which is why I jumped at this chance. Dead Man’s Party might not be the real deal but they come damn close in sound and energy.
Total Distortion – the Social Distortion tribute band opened for Dead Man’s Party and I was not disappointed there either.
While I had fun at the beach, being with friends, and seeing a live show, it was a day filled with sadness. Each time I found myself enjoying the moment I’d tear up feeling like I shouldn’t be, then choking those tears down because Auntie Boogie would’ve wanted me to celebrate. I had to acknowledge the feelings of loss and emptiness before I could enjoy myself again and then repeat when they surfaced again.
That day was a mixed bag, but getting through it using all the tools I have to manage grief made last year’s birthday a bit easier.There is still a gaping hole within me because she was a force in my life. Time doesn’t heal all wounds but it can change the shape and feeling of the pain as it passes and we grow.