I’m fairly confident that I have a completely different view of what Paradise should look like compared to others. If I could sneak into people’s heads I’d probably find visions of palm trees swaying against an azure backdrop tinged with vivid orange and gold as the sun sinks into the sea. While that is a truly beautiful image I have to admit that it immediately makes my bottom itch because I can feel the presence of sand in my swimsuit and prom dresses. I can find things to entertain myself in that sort of setting but it wouldn’t be my version of Paradise.
I’ve never been a beach girl. While I like boating and swimming and other activities that go along with water, lying on a beach has never been the type of vacation that calls to me. I got wicked sunburns on every trip to the ocean as a kid, which, if you add sand to that, makes for a very miserable redhead. So I wonder why it is that I made plans to get married on the beach in Maui in 1997? Sincerely. What on earth was I thinking? Given my predisposition to sand and salty air, why would I choose that location to marry the love of my life? It had failure written all over it. As it turned out, we broke up just days before our planned wedding/honeymoon in “Paradise.” I took the trip without him, which furthered my disdain of tropical destinations. I ended up taking surfing lessons and wondered why there was never a shark around to kill you when you needed one. We ended up getting back together and married a year later – at a beautiful cabin in the mountains – but he ended up not being the love of my life after all. I’m sure it was ultimately the beach’s fault.
Regardless, when I close my eyes and dream of my Paradise, I cannot pinpoint a singular place. It all depends – on mood, on situation, on feelings. I fell in love with the rocky beaches of Rhode Island during a spring break from college. Setting foot on the top of the Continental Divide during a starry night prompted me to move to Colorado in 1993. Walking the theater district of NYC gives me an incredible thrill. And it’s not always a destination. It’s often a memory. Or a person. Something that makes my heart feel bigger. Like my daughter’s leg intertwined with mine as we snuggle on the couch, laughing at some ridiculous movie. My dog laying his furry little head on my shoulder. Holding a lover’s hand while walking through the crunch of fall leaves. Hearing a song that reminds me of an old friend. Listening to the quiet of the snow pelting my ski jacket. Laying with my son in a hospital bed, feeling his steady breathing on my neck, knowing he is resting comfortably despite the circumstances.
Paradise can be found anywhere. In any situation. Even if the situation is less than ideal, you can close your eyes and find the joy and contentment. It’s something that you can always keep in your heart and visit whenever you wish. Free of charge.
And without leaving sand in your crack. 🙂
Melissa Birkhimer gave me this word, probably because she’s on a fabulous beach vacation with friends as I type this. Now, admittedly, if they would have invited me to come along with them, I would have gone. I’m always up for making new memories, sand or not. Now, I’ve never met Melissa in person, but thanks to the genius of Mark Zuckerberg (or the Winklevoss twins) we’re friends on Facebook. I look forward to meeting her in person someday since she is obviously close to the heart of someone I greatly admire. 🙂 Hope you’re having a blast on your trip, friends!