Solitude in San Diego’s Sunset

The Pacific Ocean is anything but pacified. The Pacific always wants something: sailors, surfers, lovers, children, my feet, the sun for dinner. The noise—some evenings—is deafening and defying conversation. Yet, its constant roar is the most perfect quiet I have come to know.


I grew up on the East Coast, believing that the sun rose from the cold Atlantic, not ever pondering where it might find itself at the end of a day. Many years later, I would fall in love with a West Coast man who would show me that the sun tucks itself into the Pacific at night—with a green flash as it disappears on the horizon if you’re lucky enough to catch it.


I fell in love with his beautiful busy city—San Diego—which surprised no one but me. San Diegans know they have it good. But how could I fall for this city of extroverts, bronzed and glowing, always out and about?

Freeways, jammed. Restaurants, packed. Beaches, full.

Except at sunset.


Sunset is when the introverts come out to play in San Diego. The crowds are long gone, and the sand has gone cool underfoot. I love this time of day at the city’s beaches. I never know whom or what I’ll see. Children, lingering in the chilly surf. Couples on vacation. Photographers like me. Fading words in the sand. Ruby red feathered seaweed. A heart-shaped stone.


The real gift is the sunset itself. In San Diego, the sun never sets the same way twice. The sky can turn from flame to pastel pink to violet-gray in 20 minutes. Sometimes, the sky is painted with clouds. Sometimes, like tonight, the sky is cloudless and hazy: a straightforward sunset, no frills or fancy shows.


I feel small beside this ocean. I like this feeling—I like to know my place in the world, especially here, in this strange, bright, and smiling city. My place here is at the edge of the city, where it feels much like the edge of the world.