I had never been to Myrtle Beach before today. I have been to several other beaches, none of whose names I can remember. I do remember the states they were in: Florida, California, and New South Wales. Every coastal town has its own “flavor” – it’s own vibe. They, of course, reflect the city and even the region – a Pensacola beach, for example, will have a much different vibe than a Sydney one.

The life on any coast, especially the closer you get to the pier, is bustling with tourists, locals, and self-professed beach bums. You’ll still find some traces of the inland culture, but mostly, seafood restaurants and surf shops dominate the terrain. Subtleties start to fade.

Then, when you get past the boardwalk, past the restaurants and surf shops and parking lots, you catch a whiff of sand and salt on a gentle breeze. The only man-made structures are a public shower here, a refreshment stand there, maybe a pier, or a dock. But ahead, nothing but sand and sea.

Getting closer to every beach, civilization gradually crumbles. The streets all come to an end. Houses and businesses can’t be built on sand. All human attempts at organization, structure, and compartmentalization begin to drop off, and ultimately, do. We walk and run and do our stuff, all on one side, and on the other side, the crashing serf, and beyond that, oblivion.

Every beach is slowly receding, year by year. And year by year, we retreat, just by a step. We’re moving in on ourselves, bit by bit. Coastal folk know this, on some level. We all do. But we still love to get in the water.

Title credited to Jessie Jordan.

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