I was right. We changed into dinner clothes, a pulse pulling me from my heart to the beach. Brendan had already been there for a day but I couldn't wait. I just wanted to feel that white, soft, velvety South Florida sand between my toes . To stand at the water's edge with the warm waves at my feet, different shades of blue as far and wide as the eyes could see. I'm not a water sign, but I'm a water spirit at heart.
The Uber app gave us 15 minutes before our car arrived. Brendan led me down through a gate opening, past the pool and hot tub, the outdoor bar, down the classic wooden, weather worn East coast steps onto the beach. When my feet hit the sand, I sighed deeply. For the 20 steps it took to feel that first mush of wet sand, my breathing adjusted to the waves. Like I teach in yoga, during shavasana and meditation. Inhale with the waves pulling out to sea, exhale with the current bringing the wave to shore.
For a West Coast girl used to the rugged, cold Pacific, from living and traveling up and down the Coast from Washington to California, and then three years on the fantastic, dramatic beaches of Hawaii, the Atlantic smells, feels and looks different. The water is almost as warm as the Spring air (78), a pure liquid softness. There are few waves and virtually no rocks or pebbles. You can wade out into the surf for a quarter mile , the water rising no further than your chest. Calm, dreamy, mesmerizing water in this part of Florida, about 45 minutes north of Miami Beach.
The thoughts and worries from my busy life slowed down, a smile crinkling the corners of my eyes. All the kid refereeing, business stress, homework battles, and daily cares and concerns kind of faded into nothingness. I just stood there, arms out, eyes closed, taking it in. Feeling my dry desert skin opening up to the salty air. Brendan sat on the beach chair behind me, smiling, knowing how carefree and happy I felt.
After a memorable night out, we walked along the beach in the midnight hour. We talked of nothing and everything. I was back the next day, just as soon as we leisurely woke up. The forecast called for 80% chance of showers but it looked clear to me. All through lunch, at the hotel's restaurant patio, the ocean kept calling. We headed down after lunch to jump into the water. I kept my hair down, knowing it would be a beachy tangly mess, but I didn't care. Floating, laughing, my mind a blank. If anything feels better than being waist-deep in the ocean, with nothing on the horizon except little waves and an occasional sailboat, I don't want to find it.
Brendan left to get back to work, writing away with the ocean quietly inspiring him. I ordered a margarita from the beachside waitress and sat back on the lounge chair. I read , dozed, and stared ahead in silent contentment. Listened to nothing and everything in the sounds of the waves. I had nowhere to go or be that day. I can probably count on two hands the times I've had such a moment the past few years.
I woke up on my stomach, covered in sand, the beach vacated . Storm clouds above, a few drops hitting my open book. Walking up to my room, keeping the sand exactly where it was all over me, I made a drink and deposited bag, book, and, after a pause, phone.
Meandering down the beach steps, the wind picked up and a few people going inside nodded to me as I headed out. As far as I could see along that expanse of white beach, not a soul was in sight.
I walked for an hour, clouds above and thunder rumbling . I did a cartwheel, waded to my knees. I didn't suck anything in, though I was wearing a small bikini. When my drink emptied, I paused by a wash of shells and filled my cup to the rim, to bring home to Audrey. I kept my mind blank, a moving meditation. The wind splayed my hair everywhere but I was glad I had nothing to tie it back with.
The first serious raindrops fell just as I recognized my hotel along the line of condos, houses and resorts. I didn't rush, I kept my pace. I took that feeling of silent beach, gentle ocean and tumultuous sky with me upstairs, back to my phone, to briefly check in with the babysitter, make another drink and smooth out my sandy book. When Brendan came back, he found me dozing on the patio, book across my lap, the rain going crazy just out of reach.
I napped again before leaving for another Florida seafood dinner. We walked the beach that night, after a few drinks, avoiding the phosphorescent glimpses of jelly fish that occasionally wash up along the water's edge. I had zero concept of time or responsibility or worry, for that whole perfect day. And that, I realize, is a true treasure. A gift to be unwrapped every chance I get.
"Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind." - Seneca