My bestest friend has been back a full week, from her vacation in Daytona.
There were times, this past couple of weeks, when I wished I could have gone with her.
Twenty-one years ago, I visited Daytona Beach with my then-betrothed, along with a pair of his friends from University. We weren't really able to afford to travel, but we needed a break, and the friends had a large-ish, reliable car with seats for two more, so, with very little planning, we packed up and went along for the ride. I really don't recall much of the trip down from Kentucky. It was a long drive, I'm sure, but I sat in the back seat and nursed my sore knees from where they knocked against my chin (I, being the tallest person there, got wedged into the smallest space in the car), so I saw little of the scenery.
We reached Daytona on the second night.
No longer did the beachfront feature the glamorous resort establishment depicted above -- the beach was lined with interchangeable high-rise hotels and seedy little places which had yet to surrender their footings. We stayed in a place which looked seedy from the front, but had considerable charm -- and no "extra roommates," as far as I could tell. It was clean, tidy, and only a little careworn, and I can not recall its name. I can only say that it was sandwiched between overpriced giants, and its poolside room had chenille comforters on the beds, red oak paneling, and a kitchenette supplied with teakettle and a couple of small saucepans.
I was delighted we did not have to stay in one of the interchangeable monolithic chain-managed monsters. My beloved was delighted we paid only 14 dollars per night, double-occupancy (he was always more sensible and pragmatic than I).
I walked barefoot in mid-December, and got blisters on the soles of my feet, from having roamed nearly five miles along the shoreline (round trip). My fiancè did not laugh at my foolhardiness -- he had done the same thing, although his feet had been already somewhat callused. I was too tired and sore to go out, that evening, for supper, so he brought me a messy and delicious sandwich from a nearby carry-out. I sat on the bed admiring the view until the sky darkened and stars appeared. It would have been about seven o'clock when I drifted off to sleep, contented as a cat in grandma's lap.
The next morning, I rose before dawn and went out to wait for the sun to come up across the sea. The beach was nearly empty -- where, the day before, it had been crowded with families, this particular morning, only a handful of fishermen dotted the long shoreline, teasing the gulls.
The day began golden.
We loaded up the car around nine, and drove to Cape Canaveral. The sky was clear, the eagles were nesting, and I was in heaven once more. I sent a post card to my beloved, as he sat beside me oblivious of my efforts. The card was of the shuttle "Enterprise", and the message read thusly: "The weather is here. Wish you were beautiful" and, below, "I am thinking of you always, with love."
Sentences three and one are still true, today.
I think of him often, and always with love. There is a hint of that golden sunrise as I recall his face.
And the weather is here.