I got to go the beach this weekend, and not just any beach: Destin, Florida. Home of hot, white, sugary sand and the clearest balmy turquoise water, and the thick, sweet smells of southern pines.
I was incredibly lucky growing up in that 1) we lived a drive-able distance from the beach, and 2) my parents took us for a weekend or two each summer, and sometimes more as we got older. We stayed at different beaches around the Gulf Coast of Alabama and North Florida, but kept coming back to the Destin area because it has such pretty water.
We didn’t go to the beach with my family last summer because of several practical reasons. I tried to make up for it by searching out swimming holes in Kentucky, but we weren’t able to find any easily accessible. We visited a “beach” in Indiana, which was sand placed by a lake. The lake had a small swimming area roped off, filled with pale people. It was, frankly, depressing.
This year, though, I got the chance to go back. My sweet (almost) sister-in-law had her bachelorette party this past weekend at Destin. Even the car trip down is filled with the memories of 26 years of beach trips – the sign on 65 that threatens “Go to Church, or the Devil Will Get You!”, fresh peace ice cream at Peach Park in Chilton county, the Sikes Country Western Mall where we bought our school shoes each year, the Tom Thumb gas stations that sprout as soon as you cross the Florida state line.
I love the moment when I climb out of the car and gulp down that heavy, hot, salty air. On Saturday morning, I went for a walk before most girls were up and just soaked in the sounds and warmth of North Florida: the chatter of birds, the slow burn of the morning sun heating up, the sidewalk littered in palmetto leaves and sand and bright hibiscus petals.
The best of all, though, is the beach itself. On Saturday, we sat on the beach most of the day, and it was glorious. My beach routine is this: walk, swim, read, repeat. The order may be changed at any time, according to mood. My mood on Saturday led me to spend most of my time swimming and floating in the perfect turquoise water. Guys, that water, and its warm, weightless, salty embrace.
Beach, I love you. I don’t know when I’ll see you again, but it can’t be too soon.