Growing up on the Californian coast can seem like something out of the movies with beautiful, bleached-blonde teenagers racing around palm-tree-lined towns in their vintage VW Bugs. However, just like any reality, that picture isn’t always the whole story. What that perfect clip crops out are the dive-bombing seagulls, frizzy beach hair, and spectacular wipeouts of anyone trying but failing to surf.

Nonetheless, if you grew up on the Californian coast you’ll also know that it’s commonplace to casually ride your beach cruiser along the boardwalk with a surfboard strapped to the side. There are just somethings you’ll only know if you grew up on the Californian coast.

1. You understand the futility of styling your hair for a beach date.

The coast is full of wonders, from playful dolphins to mesmerizing sunsets, but there are a few downsides. It only took a handful of dates spent strolling the pier to learn that wind, sand, and salt do not do your hair any favors. The only way to avoid the dreaded frizz was to throw it up in a bun and pretend it was supposed to be messy.

2. Seagulls are your arch nemesis.

Flying rats, kamikaze French fry stealers, picnic ruiners… it doesn’t matter what you call them if you grew up on the Californian coast, you know not to underestimate seagulls. While tourists laugh and take pictures as they dive bomb small children for their fist-clutched sandwiches, you know better. You diligently hide your food and keep an eye on your belongings at all times, because you remember your 10th birthday party. You won’t forgive the species for eating the cake you spent two hours decorating. California remembers. We always remember.

3. You’ve at least attempted to surf.

When asked, “Do you surf?” most of us say, “Ya, a bit” with a scrunched up face and pray they won’t ask us to prove it. The thing is, you’ve tried, you really have, but you’ve only stood up a handful of times and probably have spent more time eating sand than not. You are jealous of those blonde-haired water babies who look like they have more balance on water than you have on land.

4. Junior Lifeguards was a badge of honor.

While not all of us are the agilest on the water, we still love being in it. If you grew up on the coast, you likely spent the majority of your summer breaks swimming around piers, doing burpees on the beach, and watching in fascination as the beach guard in charge replicated stabs wounds on a watermelon. Junior Lifeguards was simply the best place to be as a kid in summer, you got to spend all day outside, you learned the sound a neck makes when it’s crushed into the sand post-skin board crash, and you ate a lot of watermelon. What could be better?

5. You know someone who got married on the beach.

When you grow up on the beach it’s no surprise that a lot of life ends up revolving around the beach. You spend your summers at the beach, you probably went on a date at the beach, and you maybe even got married on the beach (or at least know someone who did). Pro tip: beaches are beautiful places for weddings, but remember, afternoon wind is a thing and it can get chilly near dark. Make sure to remind your guests to bring coats and have the reception indoors unless it’s unseasonably warm.

6. Christmas beach walks are a tradition.

Without a doubt, the busiest days of the year on the boardwalk will be Thanksgiving and Christmas. It just makes sense when the whole family is off work, the sun is shining, and you live close to the beach. Some of us will run off those holiday indulgences while others will stroll merrily along simply enjoying the view. Some of us might even bring the four-legged members of our families, so make sure not to trip over any wayward leashes.

7. You know that September, not June, is the best beach month.

It will forever amaze me that tourists come to Ventura in June. It just doesn’t make sense, but maybe they like pea-soup-thick fog and weirdly cool temperatures for their beach days. Personally, I’d opt for the warm, cloud-free days of September if I had to pick the best time to visit.

8. Dolphins are good luck.

You definitely grew up on the coast if your lucky charm isn’t a four-leaf clover, but rather a pod of dolphins. It was always such a thrill to see their sleek, curved fins break the surface while I was driving home from school. Sometimes, if I was really lucky they’d put on a show, complete with flips and twirls, but no matter what they did, their simple presence could bring a smile to my face.

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