Sunday, June 12, 2016

Romance Row: Sea Spray Inn

Photo Credit: Sea Spray Inn

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.

Friday, April 22, 2016


After the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Lunches food tour, my tummy was pretty full. Fortunately, my next stop involved a tastefully decorated apartment at the Sea Spray Inn, where a plush bed beckoned me to nap.

The exterior of this small, neatly landscaped property was painted my favorite nautical colors, bright blue and yellow. The interior of my suite, by contrast, was decorated in soothing whites, greys, soft yellows and metallic hues. A mirrored silver tray rested on a grey ottoman in the living room. Written on the white wall, in elegant cursive, was the following message: “Welcome. May all who come as guests leave as friends.”

Photo Credit: Sea Spray Inn

I decided to hold off sleep for later. There was the sea, right across the street, which I could see part of as I sat on the balcony. I was content to simply watch the world go by, feeling satisfied and happy as a clam.

Once again, the mantra for this trip – “Can you hold a grain of sand or a drop of water in your hand?” -- shored up to consciousness. I brought the sand dollar pendant from Coast Boutique up to my chin. I thought about seashells, or more specifically, of the soft, fleshy creatures who call them home.

Most mollusks create a hard, protective coating around their bodies made of calcium carbonate. The animal literally carries its home on its back and surrenders, to some degree, to the powerful currents of the ocean. At the end of its life, this “home” may wash ashore, much to the pleasure of beachcombers. (The best places for shelling in Florida are the islands of Sanibel and Captiva on the Gulf Coast. Their geographic shape and placement scoops up shell-laden currents.)

The plucky hermit crab, who is technically a crustacean, is perhaps the most famous shell dweller. It squats inside a salvaged seashell and moves from one “home” to another several times during its lifetime. In between one piece of real estate and another, it becomes vulnerable to predators when its body is exposed.

Happy As a Clam

Photo Credit: Sea Spray Inn

My beau was visiting me later that day. The apartment certainly provided a romantic setting for a quiet evening. While I waited for him to arrive, I thought about our first few months together and how this relationship required me to surrender and make myself vulnerable, much like the hermit crab when it moves from one borrowed dwelling to another. Most of this relationship has involved me coming out from hiding under my shell and dissolving a tough exterior. I had been a hermit in my heart in order to protect myself from hurt. I had been carrying the weight of old romances on my shoulders and here I was, in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, at a hotel whose motto is “The little resort with the a big heart,” contemplating how easy and liberating it would be to just live out of one suitcase. Baggage be gone!

I’m keenly aware now of a different kind of romance that I wasn’t wise enough to endure in my younger years. Romance isn’t a Hollywood movie with a happy ending; it’s an ever-evolving practice. I no longer let the currents of a selfish passion toss me around like a hapless seashell, only to wash ashore wasted by misguided feelings of fear and insecurity. I work with the current of love now, not against it. I surrender. Letting go of control opens up my heart.

Home is where the heart is but you can’t find your heart if it’s smothered by a protective shell. Yes, you do need some boundaries, some barrier between yourself and those who enter your space with negative energy – let those lovers bounce off away from you. Learn that lesson.

But the heart can never expand and be free within the confines of a hardened exterior that carries so much pain. Love requires a certain vulnerability, a great deal of courage and surrender. A lover does more than penetrate past the shell into the soft, fleshy parts of the body; he enters the dark caves of a woman’s heart and embraces all that she is: her anger, fears and doubts along with her joys, hopes and dreams.

Maybe that was that day’s gift from the sea: a lesson about the life of seashells. I may think the shell is being tossed about by the whim of ocean currents but perhaps the mollusk inside the shell is really happy to just drift along, trusting the process.
I was happy as a clam here at the Sea Spray Inn, just sitting on the balcony, watching the world go by, waiting my for my love to arrive, feeling perfectly safe and protected, yet open enough to receive love.

Next story: High Noon
Previous Story: Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Food Tour

Disclosure: this travel experience was supported by The Lodging Association of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. All opinions my own.

#lovefl #lovelbts

Photo credit: Sea Spray Inn

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