Tampa

Tampa

Well, my travels continued this Memorial Day weekend. On Sunday morning, I flew from DCA to Tampa, Florida, to meet the boyfriend. I arrived a little after noon, and he arrived soon after that. I had to wait in the hotel lobby for almost an hour, but I had a good book and some Starbucks, so I wasn’t upset about it. I was too excited to be upset.

A brief interlude: I am so grateful to him for paying for my flights, and for the job he does that makes all this travel possible. Plus, he is doing what he loves, which is the best part of it all. It stinks that we’re apart so much, but I know he is happy, and I get to travel, so there are perks.

But I digress. Tampa was hot as Hades on Sunday. It was so hot and sunny, with not a cloud in the sky or even the slightest hint of a breeze, we abandoned our plans of walking the Riverwalk and touring Ybor City. We got lunch, and dinner, and hung out in the relative cool of the hotel suite in between.

Monday was our beach day. Love is not a strong enough word for the constant longing I feel for the sea. Maybe it’s based in the heritage I received from my mother’s family, who came from Naples in the 1920s. We picked up the rental car and drove about an hour to Pass-A-Grille Beach.

Pass-A-Grille Beach is south of St. Pete Beach, in the larger St. Petersburg area. If you drive there, drive down the coast until you can’t anymore. Right where the Tampa Bay meets the Gulf, you’ll find the spot where we set up camp. The parking is pay, but there was still a spot for us on the last day of Memorial Day Weekend. There is more parking down at that end, and less people.

There was a pier to our left, where the Bay met the Gulf. Just some hundred yards down the beach, people were packed next to each other, but we found a spot on our more sparsely populated stretch of beach to ourselves, with no one between the water and us. It was hot and sunny again, but there was a breeze that day. The water felt a little like bathwater – I would’ve liked it touch colder, but it wasn’t hot. The water was clear and turquoise, the waves largely gentle. We talked and played in the water, baked in the sun, and started the cycle over again.

We dined early at a seafood restaurant on the bay side, then headed back to the hotel, where we flipped between the last Lord of the Rings movie and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. My flight was early the next morning – and delayed two hours, which I was notified of after arriving at the airport (you were supposed to text me, American!). I was still home by one, and went on my merry way to work half-past four.

Tampa was fun. We didn’t take as many excursions as we did in Portland, but I’m just so happy being with him that it didn’t matter to me what we did – with the exception of the beach. The beach is of paramount importance. Still, it feels glamorous and fun to jet off on little notice, even for two days at a time.

Advertisements

Sunrise

Sunrise

A few weeks ago, I took a small road trip to the beach with two friends. We stayed in a cheap but incredibly nice Airbnb, where at night, because we are poor and college students, we stayed in and studied the one night we stayed.

It was a great trip. We listened to some excellent music on the way, and the drive itself was beautiful, as the day was gorgeous. We arrived on the beach in the early afternoon, and stayed on the sand almost till sunset. We took walks, dipped in the water, which was so cold it sent waves of aching up my legs from my submerged feet, napped (okay, mostly I napped), and passed a soccer ball around. The wind blew incessantly, getting sand everywhere whether or not it was welcome. The beach was mostly empty and the water, at forty-eight degrees, even more so.

The weather Sunday was supposed to be good, hence why we stayed the night instead of returning home once we were coated in sand. The three of us rose just before sunrise and trooped down to the shore. We stood in silence, watching the sky lighten, and then watching the sun rise.

We were silent and still. As young people, this does not often happen. But silent and still we were. It was lovely, and lovely to have only one thing to focus on. It was so quiet; it had been a new moon the night before, leaving the beach in a darkness so profound that I had never experienced such complete organic darkness before, and the tide was out.

Occasionally a smartphone appeared to snap a picture. Believe it or not, I’m happy the smartphone did occasionally make an appearance. It’s easy to unlock a phone and take a picture without taking one’s eyes from the actual event. I didn’t miss a moment of that sunrise, and I also have pictures to remember it from a slightly different vantage point.

If you’ve never experienced a sunrise, I would highly recommend it. This wasn’t my first sunrise, or my first beach sunrise. Sunrise is a wonderful time of day, especially if you get up for it specifically and know your warm, soft bed is waiting for a quick nap afterwards. It’s quiet – not silent, quiet. You can hear nature, mostly unadulterated by human noise, and there’s something ancient and enduring happening in front of or around you. It is an incredibly peace-bringing experience. It’s still cool or cold, but there’s a cleanliness to that, too. The quietude is what spoke to my soul. I live in an apartment with four total women including myself, three dogs, and a cat. It gets very, very loud, and having a few minutes of quiet was profound.

Find what your soul needs and enjoy it.