You drove down PCH blasting Phantom Planet’s classic “California” while laughing.
It didn’t matter whose car you piled into or where you were headed — any time you were cruising down PCH, you rolled down all the windows, blasted your tunes, and danced at red lights, not caring who saw.
You watched Rocket Power.
On weekend mornings you made your way to the couch with a bowl of sugary cereal to watch Otto, Reggie, Twister, and Sam skate, surf, and spill their life problems to Uncle Tito. You loved following those kids’ adventurous antics and you always talked about which character you were. No one ever wanted to be the Squid.
You did rain dances and played in the puddles when it actually rained.
Every time it was gray or even slightly cloudy outside, you and your friends did your best to summon the rain gods and ask for a bit of wet weather. You jumped and shimmied and sang — sometimes for hours. Then whenever it did rain, you were so excited that you ran out into the street to jump in puddles and walk through gutters, germs and potential colds be damned.
You probably spent a summer doing Junior Lifeguards.
Either your parents forced you to learn proper water safety or you begged them to join because all your friends were doing it. Either way, you probably did at least a couple weeks of Junior Lifeguards when you were young, learning how to dive under waves, scan the ocean for rip tides, and administer CPR. You came home exhausted and totally sunburnt, but you were always stoked to be in it with your friends.
You set up giant slip ‘n slides on grassy hills.
It was never you or your BFF who supplied the actual slip ‘n slide, but you always showed up with an extra bottle of conditioner or baby oil to grease it up. You and your friends would strip to your bathing suits and race down at alarming rates — bits of grass stuck to your arms and legs — until the local police inevitably showed up and shut it down.
You snuck into hotel jacuzzis after the beach.
A post-beach jacuzzi sesh was always top priority. You and your friends always spent a couple minutes psyching yourselves up and practicing your lines before approaching the pool area and casually mentioning to someone inside that you forgot your room key and could they please open the gate? If you succeeded, you spent as long as you could dunking in the lap pool and soaking in the jacuzzi until you worried things started to look suspicious.
You played in the tide pools.
Before you knew how bad it was for the environment to swim in tide pools and handle the marine life, you and your friends loved to spend a morning at low-tide frolicking around the rocks. You held the hermit crabs in your palms and cajoled them out of their shells with gentle splashes of water, you caressed the sea hairs, you walked across the beds of mussels, and you poked as many sea anemones as you could.
You skinny-dipped in the ocean late at night.
And by late, we’re talking 9 or 10 pm. In other words, early enough for a beach patrolman to stumble across your crew of naked friends splashing in the inky surf and screaming with the sheer thrill of the cold water.
Somehow, you never got caught.
You drove to elementary schools at night to play on the swing sets.
Ah, suburbia. If you lived outside a major city in California and didn’t party in your teen years, you probably spent a night or two goofing off at the elementary school playground after dark. Empty swing sets, handball courts, and unoccupied monkey bars — how could you resist?
You spent long summer days at the beach or pool.
If you lived close enough to the beach, you probably spent entire days just lounging on the sand with your friends. Making string bracelets, gossiping, eating watermelon halves with spoons, taking the boogie board out, and occasionally getting a group to play volleyball.
If your local watering hole was the pool, then you pretty much did the same thing there, too. Magazine reading, card games, arguments over who got to wear the goggles, swimming competitions, and such wrinkly skin.
You went on a road trip to Palm Desert or San Francisco for your 16th birthday.
Maybe it wasn’t your 16th birthday, but at some point you got to take a fun mini trip out of town with your friends (and some adult supervision). If you grew up in NorCal, you probably went to San Francisco for the day to split an Earthquake at Ghirardelli’s and visit Alcatraz. If you were in SoCal, you probably went to Palm Desert to pool hop and play tag on the golf courses at night — barefoot, of course.
You got El Pollo Loco or In-N-Out then ate it in the parking lot.
Whenever you and your friends were bored you drove to El Pollo Loco or In-N-Out to get a quick bite to eat. You never ate inside, though. You’d always come back to the parking lot and eat in your car with the windows down and the music blaring.