This year in springtime, I enjoyed a two-week writer’s sojourn in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a quaint, seaside village located on Florida’s southeast coast. The sea shored up her bounty of gifts for me. In turn, I gift you my stories. Visit the story map to navigate this travel memoir.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Sea Watch on the Ocean
4145 By the Sea is just off of Romance Row on El Mar Drive. My room was located at the back of the property on the second floor and featured a private deck for al fresco dining. I didn’t mind that it was a couple of blocks from the beach; in fact, the promise of quiet seclusion felt just right.
But before I’d enjoy my time at 4145, the beau and I headed out to explore further afield. We discovered Sea Watch, a nautical-themed restaurant located in the Sea Ranch neighborhood just one mile north of 4145.
Sea Watch sits on a bluff facing tall dunes on which sea grasses flourish. Our table was surrounded by glass panes that let us gaze upon the intense blue of the sky and the rich green of the vegetation. Coconut palms and sea grapes drew our eyes away from each other toward the Atlantic. Inside, oak beams, rope and brass echoed the interior of a grand Windjammer.
Sea Watch definitely romances the sea.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man who eats pasta at a seafood restaurant must not be in want of wife who will persuade him to try the day’s catch. But I didn’t take it personally. We’ve only been together for little more than a year. Marriage is still a distant prospect. To be fair, he always relishes whatever I cook.
I wanted to eat local so about twenty minutes after my glass of Chardonnay was set on the table, a tender, lightly seasoned, freshly-caught filet of grouper appeared on my plate along with grilled asparagus and a side of dill butter -- all served with that signature Lauderdale-by-the-Sea hospitality smile I’d already come to recognize.
After our meal, we walked through the dunes. Tall shrubs flanked a tight path to the wide open beach where the Atlantic meets the shore.
He stole a kiss. Well, actually, he thought he stole it; I gave it freely. It is also a truth universally acknowledged that in order to keep romance alive, a woman must always keep her man guessing.
There was no guessing about what would happen later that Sunday afternoon. Monday was calling and he begrudgingly returned to Miami. I settled into my comfortable apartment at 4145 By the Sea, missing my beloved but happy to call this little corner of paradise all my own.
I’m not quite sure what happened once I plunked my body down on the couch of that cozy modern maritime living room, but I entered what seemed like another dimension, some primeval space of deep rest. A place I hadn't visited in a long time. A place that was foreign yet strangely familiar.
I could feel my mind drifting off into this place of profound relaxation. I was surrendering to ease, distant from the dis-ease of Miami.
I can only describe this memory of bliss as Lauderdale-by-the-Sea’s proprietary brand of chill pill, which is free of cost if you’re willing to accept that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing nothing while on vacation. In fact, it’s always just what the doctor ordered. Busy vacations aren’t healthy. If your vacation is more stressful than your daily grind, you’re doing it wrong. You don’t return home well rested and then you need a vacation to recover from your vacation.
Pack sunscreen, not stress.
I gave myself permission to be a shameless couch potato in my woman cave at 4145 by the Sea.
My journey’s mantra paid me a visit. “Can you hold a grain of sand or a drop of water in your hand?”
“No, you can’t,” I replied. “It’s not practical.”
But who cares? Today wasn’t a day for inquiry. Today was a peaceful day made possible by the glaring absence of worry. Busy wasn’t invited. Lazy wasn’t on the guest list, either. I did, however, fling the door open for healing. There is a world of difference between laziness and the healing properties of meditative rest.
I remembered a day on the beach long ago when one of my yoga mentors, Gaia Budhai, quoted Rumi: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the ocean in a drop.”
I had to sleep on that.
After a nap, I took a dip in that ocean full of drops. By dusk, I had already settled in for the evening. I ate a light snack of apple slices and mango jam from the Breakaway Inn, jotted down some words in my journal and thought about being an ocean within a drop of water.
“Enough with writing,” I told myself. “Go to sleep.” I turned off the laptop, the phone and the lights. I tucked myself into that big wide bed that felt like a cloud.
The ocean within soothed me to sleep that night; she lulled me into a slumber so sweet, that I missed a knock on the door in the early morning. In the quiet of night, I dreamt of sea turtles gliding on the currents of the sea.
I woke awash with serenity and couldn’t recognize my face in the mirror. Since I arrived in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, I’d been thinking about how freeing it would be to live out of just one suitcase. I’d been taking stock of all the emotional baggage I’ve been carrying around my whole life.
And on this morning, the bags under my eyes were gone.
Was this beauty sleep another gift from the sea? In order to receive this gift, I had to unlearn Miami habits. And I knew then that I would always yearn for regular doses of the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea chill pill. Just what the doctor always orders.
I heard a rap on the door. The taxi driver had returned to fetch me. I wondered about this drop of water that’s rather impossible to hold in your hand and that perhaps it’s just as well to carry something so elusive. Had I traveled lighter on this trip, I could’ve just walked to the next hotel. So much for baggage. I laughed and gave the driver a generous tip.
Next story: Sunny Shores
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Disclosure: this travel experience was supported by The Lodging Association of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. All opinions my own.