We’re in FLORIDA!!! I have not been in Florida since I was nine years old. Many of you don’t know that my State timeline is this: Washington from years zero to six, Florida from years seven to nine, Washington again for years ten to thirteen, and Georgia from fourteen to current.
We’re exactly where I used to live in Florida, and it was amazingly nostalgic driving around and pointing out everything I used to live near. We were all calling out signs and buildings, and the car sounded something like this –
“Look! The outlets! Mar used to buy almost all her clothes there!”
“I used to get a plastic toy horse there every time we went if you could buy it for me!”
“I remember when we had gummy worms there!”
“Oh yeah, right by all the painted manatee statues!”
“Hey, there are people chatting on the freeway!”
“I’d forgotten people did that in Florida, they must be really desperate for a chat.”
“Hey, we forgot our Augu Clara CD to listen to on the way to the beach!”
“RACE THE SUNSET!!! WE CAN MAKE IT TO THE BEACH!!”
“Ohmyword, LOOK! IT’S THE ATLANTA BREAD COMPANY!”
“Best. Restaurant. Ever.”
“HEY! Look, it’s the Sunshine Skyway! From over here it looks a lot smaller than it feels while driving on it.”
And finally – “WHOA, look at the SKY!”
We did it, ladies and gentlemen – we raced the sunset and made it to the beach in time to watch the sun go down in a glorious blaze of pale blue, soft orange, glowing yellow – all the colors reflected on the water. It was amazing. I’ve never really missed living in Florida – insects, heat, and humidity are my mortal enemies to my person and (especially) my hair, which has a tendency to frizz WITHOUT the help of extra-moist air.
But being back here, in weather that’s hot but not TOO hot (it’s October in Florida, so it’s only like ninety degrees….) sings of several years of my life that were very good years. It was like a long vacation – Disney World, Busch Gardens, alligators in the backyard… now I’m rambling, but I guess memories will do that to you.
We walked down the sand of Annamaria Island, soft and sugary beneath our bare feet. We walked past crumbling sand castles and piles of tiny seashells, past beach dudes throwing eachother around in the water, past couples young and old holding hands, and watched the moon rise amid silver-rimmed clouds. If you haven’t seen the sea reflect the shine of the moon, then you’ve missed something in your life and you should head to your nearest beach.
And the funny thing is, I don’t even like everything about the beach. I like walking along the sand, but I don’t like getting myself wet AND sandy. It’s disgusting. “It’s itchy and it gets everywhere,” to quote a certain troubled Jedi. And yet, the magical pull of the beach can make me forget the fact that we aren’t on completely friendly terms, and we form a truce.
I’ll hold hands and stroll with you, I promise the beach, but don’t expect me to drown in you.
All right, it agrees.
And the waves roll up, teasing my feet, and somewhere far out, my eight-year-old self thinks there may still be mermaids playing.