The sun was brilliant. A white nova disco ball - radiant, casting Florida in hues of an overexposed photograph. From my home the trip was twenty hours in one direction and we drove throughout the night. Sunset on Saturday over midsouth cedars and thin black locust trees to a Sunday sunrise through spent peach trees and cuticle-reminiscent palms.
Afternoon iguanas and lazy alligators warming scales and tails along the streches of hot Florida asphalt, and banyan trees with roots so big we could all play hide and seek. I saw the Atlantic for the first time in my life. Shell-rich sands stretched down the coast forever along the condos, along with striped beach umbrellas and a folding chair menagerie.
The first night we parked the van and piled out, stretching distance from our legs and yawning away the last of the dramamine's embrace. At first I heard nothing only yards from the water, and then I heard the waves. My friends meandered behind - Education major, Chemistry major, Computer Science major, Medical Biology major. Perhaps the ocean sings its song loudest to those who are willing to hear.
"Come see why poets find inspiration in me." I ran. I met the incoming tide with pale bare legs. The salt-water was warm, a deep blue-black ink under the full moon. I remembered why I am Writing major. I remembered why I love literature. The ocean breathed in and out. In and out. And finally my friends caught up, stopping just before the waterline. I was up to my waist and the waves pulled away, saying in a voice that only I could hear "Come with me. Come with me." I looked out at the distant nothingness, the lonely expanse of water.
The Atlantic is a collector and a taker and a keeper of secrets. I felt all at once like I was connected to everything. I saw the distant cliffs of Ireland, the deepest coldest and darkest canyon in the ocean where the seabed falls away into obsidian mystery. The Titantic was there, miles and miles off the northern coast forever sleeping, taken and collected. "Come with me. I'll share with you my secrets."
I looked back to my friends just wading to their knees, laughing and picking shells from the sand. Tempted, very tempted. "I fear I can only speculate for now." I said to the horizon. I waded back to the beach and we drove down Los Olas where the night life doesn't start until eleven in the evening.
We ate at a restaurant named Doraku in Miami, right on a busy strip lined with stores with price-tags so high they made me blush. The atmosphere pulsed, alive with bass techno beats and sighed Zen with beige paper lanterns. I met a server that night with eyes filled with enough passion they could break your heart. I excused myself and wandered down a dark hallway marked with tea-candles on the wall. As the music looped its deep pulse I was an inch from insanity and telling him, whose name I had learned, that he was beautiful and did deeply regret the fact that I would never see him again.
I do that quite often, though. Feel a welling sadness for all the would be's and could be's.
Amidst all of the Miami madness we spoke to a phsyic woman named Ms. Lee. Over a bowl of crystal-sticks and melted white waxes she saw sadness written all over me and I saw a scar falling down her chest. "Don't worry. You have a bright future." Ms. Lee told me. She was right about a lot of things, so I hope she's right about that.
And now that I'm home again on this, my quiet birthday afternoon, I am thinking about facing this bright future. Classes start again very soon. Most of my belongings are still packed from last year. Here is to a Florida-sunglight brilliant future...