Back to life. Back to reality. This is the song that was on a loop in my head as I taxied off of the Florida runway. I would soon forget the way the palms swayed in the breeze and the surf sounded as I drank my morning coffee. If I was an emotional person, I probably would have shed a tear right there on the plane.
Anyone that knows me well knows that I am meant to live on the water, most specifically, the ocean. I am happiest when I am surrounded by my family while my toes are in the sand. Our summer vacation this year was in Panama City Beach and I loved it! The water was clear enough to see the hoards of jelly fish that resided there and the lone shark I saw about 30 feet from shore one morning while I drank my coffee. I was totally in my element. I got to see family I haven't seen in years, including my bub who I haven't seen since he was safely returned to us from Iraq (Thank you Lord). I also was surrounded by yummy seafood, need I say more?
Our very last full day was spent on Shell Island. OH.MY.GOODNESS! This place blew my eyeballs away! It was the most beautiful place I have ever been. It was totally unmarred by man. Everywhere I looked it was water, sand, grass, or sky... PERFECTION! The water was the most beautiful color of aquamarine, especially when it rolled into the powdery white sand. The dolphins were totally friendly and where happy to interact with the island visitors. Ben and the girls were about 50 feet from shore and saw a few smallish black tip sharks sharing their space with them. I could have stayed here FOREVER...
... and then I met the jellyfish. More specifically, the jellyfish introduced me to his tentacles. Now, to be fair, in the beautiful sunlit water my thighs could very easily be confused for some sort of albino sea creature. I knew instantly what was happening across both thighs (that's right, MY jellyfish was an overachiever). I started hopping back and forth and (allegedly) screaming like a little girl. Ben looked at me with both shock and embarrassment (his usual look regarding me) and cocked his head. I said, "I was just stung! I need you to take me to shore and pee on me!" His response was a very heartfelt... "pee on yourself". CHIVALRY IS DEAD! Needless to say, my remaining time on Shell Island was spent on the sand, enjoying the beautiful scenery and watching my family search for shells and have a ball in the water. I was definitely feeling very blessed with so much more than I deserve (except the sting. I totally deserved that). God is so good.
My plan for that last night in Florida was to do the mandatory 'tan shorts, white shirt, family pic' on the beach. I was so excited to capture that second in time and I very smartly planned it for our last night because I figured we (me) would be nice and tan by then. What I didn't account for was the actual shade of tan I would be after a day if being on a secluded island, sequestered to the very reflective sand. My skin tone was less 'burnt sienna' and more 'Elmo on fire'. Needless to say, the TSWS pic was not happening! Not because I was too vain to stand next to my beautifully tanned family members and be immortally captured and proudly displayed over the mantle for all to ogle (read 'laugh at'). It had more to do with the fact that blinking brought tears to my eyes and I am pretty sure I could hear my hair crying, so donning actual clothing was not an option. So instead, I would opt to spend my last night in paradise naked and covered in sticky aloe vera WITH LIDOCAINE (thank you again, God, for lidocaine *and wine*).
So as I sit here reflecting on my wonderful week in beauty I can't help but to note my lessons learned.
1. Apply sunscreen every 32 seconds while on an island
2. Don't plan pictures for the end of a vacation UNLESS you are diligent about #1
3. Eat more seafood
4. Remember where you park the rental car in the 7 level garage. Hitting the panic button doesn't really work when the horn bounces off of the stone walls.
5. Buy the picture of all four of you during dinner, even if there are cheese sticks smack-dab in the middle of it. It WILL be the only one of you all together the whole trip!
**** and possibly most import****
6. Take an ample supply of urine with you while visiting the ocean. You CAN NOT rely on your significant other to provide it in an emergency.