That bench

You know the proverbial saying, “If walls could talk…”

On a breezy spring day last week, I walked along East Cliff Drive, another gorgeous stretch along the Pacific Coast. I marveled at the number of surfers catching wave after wave. The poppies dotting the cliffs burst through the aged wooden fence, their orange blossoms like tiny flames. People waved, smiled, and greeted one another. “What a day!” Indeed, what a day.

I continued my walk, stretching it out as long as time allowed, and landed at a familiar beach called Sunny Cove. I parked along the narrow street, passing multiple cars; the scents of ocean air mixed with the distinct smell of weed…I mean, it is Santa Cruz.

At the end of the street is the ocean’s edge where there is a lone bench bolted into the ground. Even at 5’6”, my feet dangle below me when I sit upon it, much like a young child swinging her legs from an elevated chair. I have been here before. I am here now. I am simultaneously climbing around in my memories, while experiencing the present.

That Bench…

It’s been there my whole life, and even then it looked well worn, with graffiti carved into its skin.

I have sat on that bench with childlike joy, watching the waves roll in. I have sat on that bench alone in the fog, huddling into myself, pained and confused.

I have been there with friends, partaking in adolescent shenanigans.

I have swept my hand along its back, flopped onto it’s damp wooden slats, and cried a thousand tears; tears of distant parents and abusive boyfriends.

If That Bench could talk…

It would tell me part of my story; of where I’ve been; of who harmed me; of who I let harm me; of my achy heart; of my need for a new beginning; of laughter and tears and clove cigarette smoke and, and, and…

All of those memories, feelings, and thoughts; the grief and the remorse; they are like distant friends who I see on Facebook; important, but not impacting my daily life. They are part of me, but no longer rule me.

Maybe next time I take a walk along East Cliff Drive, I’ll secretly pick one of those poppies, and then leave it on that bench at Sunny Cove. I bet some young girl will come by with her own set of tears, and a world full of gray; won’t it be nice to see some color.