A Different Kind of Summer
How One Surf City Family Survived the Pandemic Summer in Huntington Beach
The summer of 2020 in Huntington Beach has been like no other summer in the eleven years I have lived here. It’s like no other summer I have ever experienced and I’m sure I’m not the first person to say that.
When California first issued the stay at home order, people flocked to our picturesque beaches. I don’t fault anyone for trying to get fresh air, sunshine and some of that magic Pacific Ocean saltwater mojo. But crowds in any location, great outdoors or not, seemed like a bad idea to me, so our family hid out for a while.
We hopped right on the backyard renovation bandwagon, and several target.com shipments later we had a decked out rooftop patio: faux grass rugs, graphic kiddie pool, a couple of Adirondack chairs and high hopes for the future. Then they shut down the beaches.
Our roof space is pretty cool, but I’ve got two boys, a four year old and a two year old. These boys need room to roam. (And by “roam” I mean charge at each other going full speed)
Playgrounds were off-limits so we found grassy parks we could walk or ride our bikes to. Farquhar Park has lots of great climbing trees and wide open space for stomp rockets and tee-ball. Bailey Park is a hidden gem. An open field, walled in on 2.5 sides, with stone benches for sitting and paper lanterns decorating the trees. My boys love to play hide-and-seek there. And with the exception of the occasional dog-walker, we’ve yet to have to share the space. Just daily walks around the block and through the neighborhood can even be exciting, especially when neighbors put up colorful signs in their windows and chalk the sidewalks. A little color goes a long way during these unsure times.
When the beaches opened back up to the public, first for “recreational activity” only and later with loose social distancing requirements, we slowly eased back into a routine. We used to go almost everyday, usually meeting up with friends, often coordinating with a stop at the pirate ship playground off 9th street. We’d grab coffee, stop somewhere for lunch, wander through CVS at some point just to see if anything was on sale. Now we alternate between the beach or a park. I wear a mask walking through our neighborhood and on the still-crowded bike path. We stay closer to our own street, in case it gets too congested and we feel it’s safer to just head home. We still get take out, but more often delivery. There are so many great local restaurants to support right now. I haven’t been inside CVS in months.
But we are ok! I recognize we are so lucky in so many ways, not the least of which is where we live. Sheltering in place in Surf City USA is not exactly a huge sacrifice. Feeling a little cheated out of summer loses its sting when you realize you live in the land of the endless summer. Things are a little different now and our quarantine experiences are all a little different too. It’s important to remember that we are all in this together and we’ll get through this together. In the meantime, kindness and empathy go a long way and there is still lots of fun (and even some summer left) to be had.
**Follow the author on Instagram @thebabrs**