I am not exactly what you would call a morning person.
Those who have had the delight of witnessing my 1.5-hour snooze sessions and incoherent pre-coffee mumblings understand that, for me, waking before sunrise is a far more daunting prospect than hang gliding.
That’s why this week’s activity — welcoming a new day on Venice Beach — was initially challenging, but, ultimately, perfectly peaceful. A yin to the yang, if you will, of my last adrenaline-fueled adventure.
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After exhausting the two snooze cycles I had permitted myself, I hauled my wine-weary body out of bed at 5:48 a.m. Saturday morning, and snuggled into my favorite sweat pants and hoodie. Unable to bear the shock of the bathroom lights, I lazily brushed my teeth in the dark and headed downstairs, leaning all my weight on the railing to prevent any klutzy calamities.
Given that 99.9% of the sunrises I’ve beheld have punctuated spectacularly long nights, I find it poignant that my first human contact that morning was with a twenty-something trio, decked in Friday night’s wear and sporting smiles as bright as the bougainvillea bushes into which they nearly stumbled.
“I love you,” the grinning woman called out to me, as her male comrades waved and nodded in unison.
A cheery start to the day. And I was only 77 feet from my front door.
Tickled by their earnestness, I returned a broad smile as I pedaled past them.
Noticing suddenly that the sky was rapidly lightening, I pushed my legs, inexorably sore from my first foray into pilates, to work harder. Moments later, I was quietly welcomed by the Windward Avenue “Venice” sign, humble beneath the still vibrant, nearly full moon.
Though I’ve biked this route on countless occasions, it was as if it were the first. The typical buzz of cars gave way to the soothing hum of my bike tires gliding across the pavement; the usual pedestrian traffic surrounding the post office and Windward Farms market was replaced by a lone man on roller blades and a posse of pigeons.
And as I rode underneath the sign and out onto the boardwalk, I was greeted — not by the loin-clothed body builder or the gold-painted statue-man — but by the thick ocean air and the sounds of surf. I was in a backyard I had only just discovered.
I wasn’t entirely alone, mind you.
A homeless man cheerily belting out a show tune rode past me on a rusted bike, laden with possessions. A white-bearded gentleman, wearing a red sweater and toting an expensive camera, meandered towards the skate park. And a sun-kissed, wetsuit-clad surfer waved hello as he trotted barefoot towards the sea.
But by the time I had locked my bike to a post and felt the give of the soft sand below me, the only company of which I was aware were the pelicans dramatically diving for breakfast, and the little birds darting across the glistening sand, exposed by low tide. Even the handful of surfers bobbing up and down in the distance seemed to belong to the sea.
Mesmerized by the joyous fluttering of life before me, I stood still and gazed out over the waves and the mountains, drinking in the horizon.
And then suddenly, something shifted.
Shuttering my eyes, I slowly turned around. When I could sense that light rays were beginning to surround me, I opened my eyes to see the sun gracefully ascending behind the palm trees.
A new day had dawned. And I was there to welcome it.
I think I could get into this morning thing…