There I was, in Florida, or maybe I was dreaming. The perfect escape plan was finally in effect. It was nice to be Calgary free, snow free, and most of all parent free. Looking forward to a whole week of new experiences to be had, new people to meet, in what felt like an entirely different world. I was looking forward to so many things, but most of all I was looking forward to finding out what made my best friend who she is today. All the bits and pieces of her southern friends and family coming together creating a giant mosaic named Keightley Bertram. I felt so lucky to be included in such a trip, adopted for a week by Keightley’s family to celebrate her birthday in style. Such an awesome party it was going to be, with an unlimited amount of space, people, and lack of restrictions. This was definitely going to be a trip to be remembered.
That first breath of humid tropical air in the morning a refreshing change from the dry mountain air of home. All the memories of the plane trip and the many wasted classroom hours spent day dreaming of the fun these eight days would be packed with, all came flooding back in that one moment. It was incredibly energizing, in those few seconds I could feel myself become almost giddy with anticipation and I was still barely even awake. I could tell it was still early in the morning, but the sun was already peeking over the sea casting wild colors in the sky, the thought of drifting back to sleep was a joke. I was awake now, and probably would be for the next eight days.
I crept out of the room quietly and tried to make my way through the cottage without waking the Bertram family. I stepped outside and onto the silky sand that seemed to stretch on forever. I jogged to one of the beach’s most powdery sand dunes and jumped in feet first, sand rising around my shins. Running the sand through my fingers as if to tell if it were real, I was deep in thought. Whether or not I was dead and this was heaven was probably my biggest question but also the most quickly dismissed. I almost laughed out loud at the thought, me getting into heaven, now that was a funny idea. Not only was I not religious, or always pleasant, but to many a royal pain in the arse. None of these qualities the key to eternal paradise, let alone both of them combined.
The sun climbed slowly higher into the sky, I could feel the almost powdery like sand cool against my skin start warm up in the light. Out on the ocean I could see a pod of porpoises feeding in the shallow waters of the low tide. I had to squint to see the sleek creatures follow their food source around the point. The sun beginning to reflect of the water was now too bright and began to sting my eyes. I stood up and started to make slow circles soaking in every little detail of my surroundings like a sponge. A strange feeling began to well up inside of me. Only a few time have I ever thought that something was too good to be true, and never to this degree. The volleyball net swaying in the wind begging to be used, the palm trees battered by the previous hurricane standing lazily in a row, the shrimp boats making their way home after a long night fishing the seemingly everlasting shrimp stocks, and back again to the oldest cottage on the beach where the Bertram family went back for three generations.
Although time felt non-existent to me, everyone else was still in reality and would surely be out of bed by now. I reluctantly sauntered back to the cottage. Peering into the bedroom, now with sunlight pouring from the windows, I could hear the sweet sounds of Keightley’s manly snores. The rest of the house was silent; my morning wanderings had gone unnoticed.
“Oh Keeters,” I sung with glee.
She stirred slightly, the blankets falling off the bed in a heap. I could see the same reaction happening to her as what had happened to me earlier. First the confusion, the where am I questions along with the how did I get here, all very clearly expressed by her distorted facial expression. Then as quickly as it had occurred to me, she obviously had pieced it all together, and as if she had just had a major electric shock she shot out of bed.
“Kelly, were in Florida!” Keightley announced with an almost psychotic look in her still sleepy eyes.
Of course I had figured this out hours ago, but the excitement was re-ignited once again none the less.
After some Florida orange juice and some toast we set up in a sunny spot on the beach. The strongest sunscreen available was smothered over our Canadian pasty skin from head to toe. The hours of the day seemed to melt away at an extraordinary pace. I knew time would go by fast but it was as if we were in a movie and someone clicked fast forward, at this rate it felt as if I’d be home by the end of the day. There was a moment of panic at the comprehension of just how fast this would all be over. The sun began to sink into the sky; we lazily made our way back to the cottage, people would be arriving in an hour or so and the party would be on. Despite our attempt to keep our skin un-scorched, spending hours on end traveling to and fro from beach towel to the warm tropical water made our skin about as fried as Bob Marley used to be.
Everything seemed to be a blur, everyone showed up within a minute of each other. I could distinctly remember playing out this night in my head, though it ended up scarcely how I imagined it. At first the basic birthday party theme played out, with presents cake and many adoring friends. After that everything transferred onto the beach. I was surprised when her friends commented on my accent, I finally knew how Keightley must have felt back in Canada, and it wasn’t a bad feeling, just weird. All of her friends very nice kids, and after talking to many of them I found out that though we lived thousands of miles apart we still had the same problems to overcome, the same hopes and dreams. The only difference was they were tanned Americans and I was a pasty Canadian.
As the night went on we traveled down the beach away from anyone older than 20. My mind was placed into a dream state; I still wasn’t quite able to grasp the situation. Just being able to be outside on a beach was marvelous, when only a day or so ago I was surrounded by ice and snow. Back in Canada this time of year the thought of exposing the majority of my skin to the outside air, particularly at night was a frightful thought. The moonlit evening went on and my hazy state of mind was not about to get any clearer. I was somewhat anxious; I kind of wanted to remember this night.
We ended up laughing, dancing, and falling in the sand until I could see the slightest pink to horizon. I was seeing things not solely by moonlight now, the twilight of the wee hours of the morning illuminated the sand. My blurred vision could see the outline of most of our crowd passed out along various places of the beach. People were starting to drop like flies; one by one people either falling asleep or beginning their journey home. Knowing the sun would be high in the sky in a few hours I wandered over to my favorite sand dune, sat on top of it, starring out across the sea. I started to lean sideways, slipping towards the sand, and as if someone hit me over the head with a bat I was out like a light before my head hit the beach. Just one nearly sleepless night down only six days of Paradise left to go.