This morning, I woke up in a strange room in a city that neighbors the one I grew up in. As my traveling companion slept fitfully in his bed, I moved through the room making coffee, showering, reading and doing my morning exercises. The nervousness and tears that had marked my first day of travel were gone; now it is onto the adventure.
An adventure that as a writer feel compelled to chronicle. This is my first vacation in over a year, the last being a weekend trip to Sanibel, Florida, with a dear friend after the death of Papa. It was a healing trip, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico washing away some of the stress and agony of loss. More than a year into my new reality, I know that there are no waters that can wash away sorrow and grief, only waters that can comfort and refresh the heart and soul. I still miss Papa, he would have worried about me taking such a long trip.
Sanibel, if you have never been, is a small island off the west coast of Florida. It is known for its peaceful beaches and for the prodigious amounts of shells that wash up on its shores. You can find 250 different types of shell on their more than fifteen miles of beaches.
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit three times and each time brought with it a sense of serenity that just speaking the name of the island in my mind brings me joy. Each time, I have gone I’ve stayed at the Sandpiper Inn, a colorful and very affordable spot on Donax street. It is a quick walk to the beach to collect shells from there and they have bikes which are free for guests to borrow. It was truly delightful to hop on a bike and ventured off to breakfast. There are over 25 miles of bike paths.
The best and strongest memory of that trip was driving over to Captiva and renting a boat for the day. We sailed around the bay for a couple of hours and were delighted when a dolphin joined us for a bit. We sailed back and forward trying to follow him only to realize that he was playing with us. It was absolutely marvelous. The experience of a lifetime.
Now, in a few hours I will be boarding a plane with two friends heading to Paris where we will meet two more friends for another experience of a lifetime. One of those friends is the same extraordinary soul with whom I went to Sanibel.
My heart at this moment is light. I know worry will return. For now, I am delighting in the adventure ahead as I look out the window towards the towers of Dulles seeing the tips of airplane tails among the trees.
Au revoir mes aimes!