The bright blue ocean water lapped at the white sandy beach. I sat on my beach towel watching and listening to the water roll in and out along the shore in Laguna Beach, two miles west of Panama City Beach, Fla. I remember the first time I saw the Gulf of Mexico as a nine-year-old child. I wasn’t a good swimmer, and I had no desire to swim even now. However, the ocean called my name.
I had visited a beach nine times before this trip, but this was the first time I realized the beach is my place. It is my paradise. It is where I am happiest. My two children and I had traveled 12 hours from our home in Indiana to stay on a quiet part of this white sandy beach in the panhandle of Florida. It was my first trip to this part of Florida. When I had traveled to this southern state as a child, I had always gone either to the west or east coast, and I didn’t usually stay for a week as we were doing this time.
Even though it was spring break, I had no desire to be in the heart of the action. Instead we stayed about two miles west in a quiet little town. Condominiums and small houses surrounded the small motel. If the motel’s sign hadn’t greeted us, I probably wouldn’t have known it was a motel. It blended in so well with everything else.
For every meal we could sit at the table at the front double window and watch the ocean. We could sit on the porch and hear and see the ocean. I soaked up all I could the seven days we stayed. I began falling in love with the area even though I knew people were partying two miles away. I loved the peacefulness I could feel. Every night the sun said good night to me as it slipped down the horizon, giving us these beautiful colors in the sky.
A couple of days into our vacation, I started looking at little houses for sale. Curiosity got the best of me since I knew I couldn’t afford anything at that point. However, I could dream of an enclosed screen porch where I could write and soak in the ocean as I was on this vacation. I had never had a beach captivate me as this one did. I’m not sure if it was the white sand or the clear blue water or the quietness of the area or all of the above. Not many tourists gathered around — only the ones staying in the motel. I did find one house on down the road for sale. What little grass there was stood tall, and the house looked as though no one had lived in it for quite some time. The potential of living there jumped at me.
The beach makes me feel alive and brings me joy that I’ve never felt before. I can’t say my home state of Indiana does that except maybe in the summer. Even then I don’t have a beach where I can hear and see the ocean. I don’t know what it is about the beach, but I feel more myself when I’m there. I can relax and not think about the stress I’m dealing with back home or the craziness of what is going on with our country.
It’s like the water rolls in, grabs my troubles, and takes them back out to sea so that I don’t have to deal with them again — if only I was that lucky. But while I’m there, I don’t think about anything but relaxing and finally getting away. Maybe someday I can afford to have a place near a beach, but for now visiting as much as I can and dreaming is all I can do.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.