Tag Archives: Florida

Surfing with Purpose

Friday night I went to the beach alone to watch the sunset and decompress from the week’s craziness. My birthday was the day before and truly great but the full moon preceding it roused some sadness within my psyche as well as maniacal energy in the kids at school. So let’s just say I needed some beach time, if only for an hour.

I set up my blue beach chair towards the setting sun and a band of young surfers and skim boarders. They always fascinate me as I’ve never been able to surf (only tried it twice though thus far). I will not try skim boarding. I don’t want to recreate the incident in which I thought it OK for me to attempt to ride one of those ridiculous hover boards. I’m lucky I didn’t break anything or send myself to the ER.

Surfers have this underlying known mantra of being one with the ocean, feeling the waves, living for that next curl. I had many fantasies growing up in Tennessee that I could possibly be one of them some day. I often thought about a bungalow near the beach where me and my surfer buddies would live. This image has crossed my mind so many times I’m not sure if it’s a recurring dream or something that happened in a past life or parallel universe. Nevertheless I’ve imagined this house on its stilts and the colorful cushy floor pillows inside and these cool, easy-going people and that lifestyle ever since I can remember.

This life never came into fruition in that way, but I’ve gathered bits of it here and there and incorporated it. I live close to the beach and keep beach and river items in my trunk at all times. There’s always a sprinkling of sand on my floorboards. I can paddle board pretty well. And in these moments of beach-going if there are surfers about I tend to gaze out and watch them.

I noticed a few yards away from the band of them a young girl of about seventeen skim boarding by herself. She had a perfect athletic body, tanned skin, long blonde hair. And she could skim the hell out of that board. She had such purpose in her movements along with gracefulness and strength. She did this over and over, never falling off, never an instance of hesitation. And she wasn’t doing it to impress anyone. She was in her own world, accomplishing a feat not easily obtained. I reveled in this girl, this kick ass girl who was ripping it up out there and in that moment seemed to have such confidence and talent. I thought about myself at that age and in no way could compare as I hadn’t near that kind of self assurance, strength, free spirit.

But perhaps this girl doesn’t always convey or encompass these qualities. Perhaps she struggles with something deep down and this is her solace. This is the thing that keeps her grounded. Perhaps she doesn’t always have it together as she does right here on this beach with all these boys in the distance and pelicans flying low in the golden horizon. But thank God or the Universe or Neptune or hell all three she found something she’s good at. And can hopefully take that with her when she’s not in the warm gulf whitecaps.

All of us humans have struggles. Some days are more arduous than others. If we find that something which keeps us from going mad, something that gives us a freedom and sense of peace not unlike a breeze in our hair, water lapping at our feet, or personal triumph, then we should try and incorporate it as much as possible. And do it with purpose just like that young girl in the surf on a random Friday night.

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Farewell September

We came back to thank god
all is ok
but the stench of humid decay
and fallen trees
rises like a bubbling swamp
and nighttime loneliness
pricks mockingly at the heart

Flood waters and sink holes
rip and drown requisite dreams meant for peaceful sleep

Blinding sunlight falling with the spit of rain
I want to sleep next to the open window again

A disconnect with those who stayed
and those who love but far away
a rash urge to flee again
or chop off all the hair
and wish it to grow back times ten

You are not sad
and I hope you never have to contend

I’ll take it all and bear through it as I wish September to end.

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Mass Exodus

I hear the sounds of my youth outside the window, the various chirping and buzzing. And although so familiar also so distant to me now. The heat and sand and multitude of adventures of my home now for 16 years calls to me.

It was a mass exodus out of my beloved state of Florida. Those of us fleeing north in a perpetual gridlock. At one point I blew bubbles out the window to lighten the mood. 

This monster of a storm barreling towards us is imminent. And now it is hurry up and wait. Those who’ve stayed to fight it out have boarded up their homes and filled their tubs. I want to be there to hold their hand through the eye of it. But I can only send well wishes and pray to the Universe to have mercy, weaken this thing. Mother Nature in all her glory and zen can turn to desicrate within minutes. 

Before moving to Florida over 16 years ago I lived in Tennessee, in and around Nashville where I was born and raised. It will always be a part of me. Hell, I’ve got the ever-present accent to prove it. There are family and friends there I hold dear to my heart even when we go months or years without being in each other’s presence. 

My memories scatter over various times in my life. There was college and TV production shows we birthed and sent out into the airwaves over late nights and early mornings. There was childhood where the cedar trees in my backyard over looked the creek where we spent days exploring and trying to catch crawdaddies. There were the high school days of triumph and aggravation. Bonding with those of the same heart. And through it all my brother somewhere close by. 

So now I stay with him and his family in their home in Tennessee while we all wait for this storm to spin and crash its course. The course that is battering where my life is now. In all its quirkiness and troubles Florida is endearing to me and I wear it with me always. Even in the suffocating heat of August and the rainy hurricane season of September I still regard it with adoration. Various memories here, too. The birth and growing up of my son. The friends made from various other parts of the country who all came down for one reason or another. The beach, the springs, the trails, the cute little towns, all the parks, even the bland strip malls and constant flat earth. I love it all as I did when I’d come to visit in my youth. And of course the freeing opportunity to wear flip flops all year round. 

Oh Florida, and all of you there. Please be safe. Keep your walls in tact. Crouch and fight and breathe. And rise again with the sunshine waiting for another day. Those of us who fled will be back to hold and rise with you. 

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I Feel Strongly About Saturn

I’ve always been a proponent of vacations. Every vacation I ever took left me with a newfound sense of zen, an inspiration to tweak things in my life, and an altered way of looking at my surroundings.

I just got back from a three week road trip (tour de South) with the boy, who is twelve years old- that splendid minute between childhood and adolescence. He still sleeps with his stuffed animal Snuggles yet he forgot I existed once on our trip when a fellow 21 Pilots fan with long dark hair and a braided choker necklace entered his world.

Besides my glorious trips overseas in my teens and twenties I have not been away from home for this length of time. I can be a cave-dweller. When not at work or grocery shopping at Walmart I stick to my minute radius, often ignoring the slight nag to interact with humanity on a physical level.

Vacations pluck you out of your comfort zone, plop you into the unknown, and enlighten your sense of self. I learned I can keep up with preteens on a floating obstacle course (although I could barely lift my arms the next day). I realized I am pretty good at being a chameleon when it comes to cohabitating with various families and groups of people (although I had to slink away at small intervals to get away from the tiresome chatter I’d rather replace with a good book or staring at the tops of the trees).

I urinated in several outdoor locations without soaking my feet. I got lost in the banjo-echoed boonies without becoming completely inconsolable. I drove through thunderstorms and along winding mountain roads and alongside Live Oaks draped in Spanish moss.

I sang aloud to Boz Scaggs and Jimmy Hendrix and Weezer. I sipped coffee with my brother. I read fairy tales to my nephew. I poured my grandmother a glass of milk. I floated down rivers with friends I hope I have forever.

And all this with my son.

When we pulled into our driveway I was a bit dejected. Reality. Chores. Bills. Work. Homework. But if I can tackle these things with the zen I felt on the mountain, the freedom I felt on the open road, the happiness I felt surrounded by friends and family, then maybe these mundane tasks won’t be so stressful.

“I feel strongly about Saturn” was written in marker on a wooden bed in a cabin in the north Florida woods. It made me think of all the travelers who came there before me. And the dreams of stellar travels to come.

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What the Train Conductor Say

I pump the pedals of my bicycle
along the paved trail
where once were train tracks

Sunshine gleaming through trees
and the wind at my neck

I have spent miles and miles here
But today I hear those locomotive engines
and the words from the train conductor
at the helm of his mighty craft:

“Sometimes it get lonely out here
so I seek the solace of my position.
For I am not really alone.

I see the backs of these shops and houses
I see the side that is hidden away from view.
I get a glimpse of the back door, the fruit trees
ready to bear their tropical seeds, mothers and daughters
hanging clothes on the line to dry in the sunshine.

I see men tending to gardens
and boys playing chase.

When they hear the horn in the distance
sometimes they crawl outta their sheds.
Some of them pay no mind.
Some of them wave and smile and go on about their business.

But some of them got no smile on their face.
They want to jump right on the train
and go far far away.
Those are the ones that show me their soul.
And all I can do is leave a billow of coal smoke
to remind them of hope.”

And that is what the train conductor say.

I pedal and pedal
along these old tracks
feeling the cool wind
and the heat of yesterday

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Photo courtesy of me: JeniferBPhotography

 

 

 

 

 

 

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January, at its Best

How many cold, winter nights
have we sat by the window of some smoky place
and contemplated the state of things
or nothing at all
And how such a winter's night
could be so mild
'tis a strange thing but all the same
Fine by me for bitter winds
only add to the shame of man
For no man has not a care in the world
lest he have not a mind or soul
Would that I could take things like
that soulless man
My existence would not have reason
And my mind would think silly thoughts
through the window of murky winter.

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Written when the Tennessee winter was more than I could bear.
The endless days and weeks of cloudy skies, barren tree limbs, and freezing temperatures took its toll.

It robbed the best of me, leaving a fallen, desperate shell.
Now my Floridian January is a celebration.

The cool winds keep the warmth from stagnating.
And I am smiling as the vivid colors of a blue sky backdrop promise me sunshine and breezes
and greenery.

And birds gracefully gliding in their sunny winter dance.

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Just a Shadow?

shadow

This morning on my chilly bike ride I saw her.  Again.  She is usually near the park, but today she was a bit farther north, just before the tunnel.

On happy days I ignore her dark, dead eyes then roll my own bright blues after I pass her.  She never says hello, never a word.  I don’t know how it is humanly possible for someone to walk that slow and not fall.  Among the bikers and joggers and roller bladers and parents pushing strollers there she moves at a snail’s pace.  Except a snail has a purpose behind its travel.  I gave up smiling and saying good morning to her long ago.  And those hats!  A different one every day.  Neither too fancy nor too casual, yet totally impractical to moving about on the trail.

And her clothing.  It’s as if she’s dressed for a day at an open market someplace I’ve never been but only seen on TV.  Long, flowy skirts and tunics.  Even when it is sweltering outside (which it is here half the year) her entire average-sized body is fully covered.

But it’s not just her outward appearance that shakes me.  It’s what I feel when I see her.

I know when she is up ahead on the trail.  Not just because of the cadence of her mechanical walking, but because of the energy.  Whatever I am feeling I know she senses.  On my happy days I try to send her light or at least surround myself with irradiation so she may become momentarily blinded.  But when I pass her with this glow she does not falter.  glow

On my sad days (which thank god are not often anymore) I also avert my eyes to hers.  But I try not to direct this melancholy towards her.  Instead I feel she knows this.  She gives no solace yet she takes no energy.

But this morning she was not walking.  I saw up ahead a figure standing beside the tunnel, looking out onto the horizon.  I thought to myself what a beautiful photograph that would be.  The figure posed better than you could tell a model to pose while looking outward.  A shadow before it stretching out toward the early morning sun.  When I came closer I saw that it was her.  And like usual when I see her there is no one else around.

And like usual she did not look at me, did not speak a word, did not even seem to be breathing.

I biked past and just a tad more north where I always turn around and grab my water bottle from its nest underneath my ripped, cushioned seat.  When I got back to the tunnel she was gone.  I didn’t even see her anywhere else on the trail as I made my way back towards home, cold sweat on my forehead I had to wipe off on my little sissy Florida gloves.  tunnel

I have always wondered if she is a ghost.  I could ask one of my occasional biking companions about her but she is never there when I have company.  And to be honest I don’t really want to know.  She is my mirror.  Although unsettling, she reminds me to keep peddling and singing and sweating no matter what dark eyes try to pierce inside.

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