Bill Baggs Lighthouse

After a great start to the day–wherein I awoke at 4:30 AM and couldn’t fall back asleep, and then proceeded to get up and write and got a little over 2,000 words done–we backed the beach bags and headed to Bill Baggs State Park, or, how we locals call it,¬†El Farito (Spanish for The Lighthouse). Bill Baggs is located in the southernmost end of Key Biscayne, and it boasts a historic lighthouse, biking and hiking trails, snorkeling area, family-friendly beaches, and the Lighthouse Cafe.

Here are some pictures I took with my iPhone (two of which were edited using the Instagram app I downloaded today!) ūüôā

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Another day in a beach town

The rain threatens late today. It starts as a low, long rumble as we take an afternoon stroll on the beach. Towards the north, where the land and sea blend together into a solitary line, the dark clouds form shadows of mountain peaks and I almost forget that we’re in Florida’s east coast; there are no mountains here. The rain never comes, though.

The afternoon stroll was a good ending to a good day. I could get used to days like these: taking morning strolls on the beach; building sand castles and watching small shells dig their way back into the sand, far away from us and the birds that feed on them; swimming in the pool, trying out water aerobics; napping after lunch to the sound of the waves coming and going; taking an afternoon drive or walk or just sitting in the balcony, writing. I could absolutely get used to this.

I’ve been productive today, with my writing classes. For my children’s writing workshop, I finished a superhero assignment that I thought would dismantle me. One of my first sketches included Super Mom, whose powers include seeing all (a la having eyes in the back of her head – yes, clich√©d, I know) and who constantly battled her nemeses Grumpy Grandma and Know-it-All Friend. A bit lame, and more a platform for a disgruntled mom than a kid’s superhero. Though I might revisit these “characters” even if for a comedic post. What I finally submitted was much better than this. I hope.

In my personal essay workshop, we had a guest author pop in, and it was very interesting. Christine O’Hagan¬†was kind and answered our questions candidly. I always find it helpful to listen to the advice and wisdom of authors who know the ropes, who’ve published in the field I’m interested or tackling. I particularly loved when she said (and I’m paraphrasing) memoirs need to be written with compassion and humor. Compassion and humor – so important. In the process of writing my memoir (and it’s still very much a work in (early) progress), I’ve come to understand that memoir writing is not a vendetta, it’s not the opportunity to get even with someone. Memoir writing is writing without judgement, to understand and make peace with a past and with people in that past. It’s a journey and an exploration about an event (or events) and person (or people) that were significant in life and that, by sharing this experience, others can understand shards of their own lives.

Now, I sit here in the balcony. My son is asleep (finally – no nap today), and my husband is next to me, on his iPad. We’re quiet, and the only sounds that come are from the waves, the breeze, and the keys on my laptop as I’m typing. It’s a beautiful rhythm. Our vacation ends in two days, and I don’t want it to. I want to stay here, in this beach town, indefinitely. I want to get used to this routine.

Satellite Beach in Pictures

This time around, I haven’t taken my camera out as much. I’ve been concentrating on relaxing, playing in the sand with my little man, building sand castles by the ocean’s edge, swimming in the pool, napping mid-day. But the few times I did, I got some pretty cool pictures. The best were the coral rocks that jutted out of the coast, at low tide. I had no ideas these rocks existed so close to the shore!

 

Coral rocks by the shore

Coral rocks by the shore

Seashell

Shuttle Launch on Hazy Day

Wildlife

Awe

Crashing Waves

AlgaeAtlantic Ocean Рshoreside 

Looking for breakfast

Beachfront property

Surfers in the morning

It's all about perspective

Scenes from a Beach Town

The smell of rain is thick and suffocating. It fills my lungs and I gasp a little. It’s that¬†thick.

In the morning, the surfers were out in the water. We watched them from our balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. They formed a jagged line out there, small on their surfboards, and they glided, moving with the same rhythm as the waves. I don’t know whether they spoke or yelled to each other; the waves drowned out any noise outside their own rhythmic whoosh¬†as they hugged the sand, then slowly crept back into the deep.

A soft rumbling of thunder tells me the pool is out of the question, something my son is not too happy about. Instead, we climb into our car and take a small drive, stopping first at Starbucks for some much-needed coffee. There, my son orders a cookie, then pays for it, by himself. He’s almost four and proud of his accomplishment.

My son is hungry, so we head to Pistilli’s Italian Restaurant and New Jersey Style Pizza in Melbourne. We’ve been to this place before and loved it; this time is no different. We scurry from the car into the restaurant; it’s started drizzling by now, a small mist that is enough to dampen but not soak. Inside, the lights are dim, the curtains half-drawn. Large posters featuring The Godfather and The Sopranos frame the entry way. A sign in the front tells us “Welcome – Please Seat Yourself” – and so we do in a booth by the back, near the kitchen.

The decor is simple and Italian – pictures of wine bottles and grapes, Italian chefs, a small decorative sign that says “Good Food, Good Wine, Good Friends.” Tammy, our waitress, rushes from table to table; she’s alone today, but she doesn’t miss a step or mix an order. Soon, we’ve ordered our meal: two slices of cheese pizza each for my son and me, and chicken parmigiana with pasta and a side salad for my husband. While we wait, Tammy brings us some bread, and we sit back, listening to “Shake, Shake, Shake Senora,” which reminds me of the movie Beetlejuice¬†every single time. In the kitchen, the sizzling, clanging, and chopping seems to move to the song.

When the food gets to us, we dig in. Perfection. My pizza is just right: not too much sauce, and it’s more sweet than spicy. The thin crust is not crispy, and the cheese stretches when I take a bite. This is how I like pizza. And the slices are large. My son eats an entire slice; I eat two. My husband likes his meal, too, though he eats half of it, along with half of a pizza.

We are back in the apartment. Our stay is courtesy of family, and we’re grateful. This small break by the beach is what we needed to unwind, to let the ocean sweep our worries and stress and take it back out to sea, so we can revive and renew our energies.

My son, who claimed – “I’m not tired! – in his strong, defiant little voice, is passed out on his air mattress. His soft snores tell us he was, in fact, quite tired. The sliding glass door is shut, but the waves’ rhythmic lullaby reaches us and I think we, too, will take a nap.

Outside, it’s still dark, though the east is showing some breaks of sunshine peaking through puffs of clouds. A solitary surfer remains in the water, sitting on his board. I wonder what he’s waiting for, bobbing with the waves.