The Turbulent Sea

It had been pouring rain all morning along the San Diego coastline. Cynthia Perez stood under a thatched hut made of desiccating King Palm fronds twenty yards from the water near a group of smooth, caramel-colored rock formations at Windansea, an area between Pacific Beach and La Jolla. Perfect A-frame waves broke there all day, converging into one sharp point. These were thick, heavy waves that the local surfers appreciated, but on this day, there was no one in the water except a passing sea lion following a school of anchovies.

Cynthia turned and looked up the hill at the blue Honda Civic hatchback stuffed to the brim with belongings she thought she would need. For as long as she could remember, she had taken care of everyone around her without asking for much of anything in return, and she was tired of being taken for granted. All she did was cook, clean, watch her family bicker and fight, try to keep her kids out of trouble, and work a dead-end job that would never amount to anything. She had been born and raised in San Diego and didn’t even like living there anymore. Windansea was the only spot that still made her feel at home. She was over it.

She shoved her hands in the pockets of her gray hoodie and tried to remember the last time she did something by herself that made her genuinely happy. Cynthia was 36 years old, 5’3”, and carrying a little bit more weight than she wanted to. She was still pretty, though, with shoulder-length black hair, dark brown eyes, and a smile that hinted at warm possibilities in a world where pain could scar any relationship at a moment’s notice. She knew that if she didn’t try something else right away, she was going to crack. She had always been the dependable one, but only for others. Now she needed to learn how to depend on herself.

Her friend Clara had a room in her L.A. home ready for her. Cynthia wasn’t going to tell her husband, kids, and employer anything until she was settled into her new life in L.A. and fully prepared to face that uncomfortable task. She figured she loved her family as much as anyone else, and she would miss them, but what good was loving others when she got nothing in return? Declarations of loyalty and respect didn’t mean much without corresponding actions that reflected those claims. As she stared at the storm clouds and considered future possibilities, she felt calm and hopeful. She could hardly believe what she was about to do, but it was time. She took one last look at the turbulent sea, said “Peace out,” and strolled up the hill, thinking about how beautiful the drive up I-5 would be in the rain.