I think going back to a place, to a time, to a memory, can hold deep significance in our lives.
Before this road trip, I had been to Carmel by the Sea once, in the dark, passing through with my girlfriend at the time, and only because my mom had recommended we stop there on our road trip. We got ice cream and headed out that same night without even witnessing its beaches besides hearing the light crash of waves and feeling the nighttime ocean breeze.
After that road trip, my girlfriend broke up with me, and even though we are friends now, and I’m finding happiness doing what I love, I went through an extremely hard time dealing with the breakup for some time after it happened.
So when I ventured out on this next trip with just Denali, starting my website and visiting new places, I had to stop at some of the same locations, determined not to let that brief memory of Carmel and it’s quiet nighttime breeze be my only one.
I parked the car at 9am, dirty and tired after my stint in Big Sur, and headed down to their famed dog-friendly beaches to explore for the day. I met locals and tourists, dogs and humans, and felt the surreality of its shores. It turned out to be absolutely gorgeous, and after swimming its waters, exploring its shops and eating its food, I left with a sense of rejuvenation and a revitalized memory of the place they call Carmel by the Sea.
Now don’t get me wrong, I loved that little moment of ice cream in the night with that woman almost two years ago, and I will never forget those feelings. But building a new memory, independent from the past and for Denali and me only, holds a special place in my heart, and I go back to that day quite often.
The point is this. You can’t change what has happened before this moment, but you can change what happens moving forward. You don’t have to bury the past, but you can build off of it and accept it as beautiful, even when it didn’t feel so at the time. You can create new memories, but they will never “replace” the old. The past has led us to our present; the places and people we knew to who and where we are now. Embrace the hurt, the guilt, the shame, depression, anger, whatever it may be, and let it the f*%# go. Love your old self but strive to grow. Build new memories. Or a ship – it can be a metaphorical ship – and set sail for something new. Don’t fear something just because it reminds you, embrace it because it reminds you who you are. Now. In this very moment.
This is why I hold both of these memories dear to my heart…and you have to admit, Denali looks pretty fucking gorgeous in those Carmel waters!