It’s an strange thing, time is. I haven’t been down to this part of Florida since the late 90’s and even thinking about that passage of time is odd. But since that point Destin has really built itself into a continuous tumor of resort hotels and strip malls, tourist attractions and convenience stores. There’s hardly an inch of space where there’s room for a palm tree to grow. The ocean itself is the last stand of undeveloped space and I wonder how long it will before someone build a hotel in the water. You have to see that coming one day, really, and I’m surprised it hasn’t been done already.
It’s been foggy and cloud ridden since we arrived but at least it’s warm. There’s a strong wind blowing off the Gulf Of Mexico and it’s far too windy to walk on the beach as I wanted to do. I settle for haunting the road that borders the beach and whoever developed this area knew that one day the Gulf would reach up and take part of this road, and maybe part of the hotel back into the sea where everything came from in the beginning. But the profits made from an endless parade of people trying to escape their lives make the gamble an acceptable risk. The vendors and owners of all the tourist attraction live and breathe with the casino of the sea.
There’s a full moon hidden in the clouds above. I can see it at odd times as the clouds march inland. Maybe it’s raining a hundred miles away from this spot as all that moisture has to fall eventually or maybe it’s building up for a flood. There is no one else in the damp darkness but me. Last night’s beer is still with me. It’s three in the morning by Central Time but I’m still on Eastern so it’s four. It doesn’t matter. It’s Christmas and that means that everyone is sleeping in and there isn’t any place open for hours if at all. There isn’t even a vehicle on the road anywhere. I am alone surrounded by thousands of sleeping people.
The dampness of the air and the wind ought to bring a chill to the air but there isn’t anything but a warm salty taste. I’m going to have a difficult time convincing law enforcement I’m not drunk if I get spotted. I’m staggering from the wind in the darkness of a predawn Christmas. Who in their right mind would be out in this on Christmas Day? Hotel resorts and strip malls. There’s very little else out here but shops and sand and the wind. Sidewalk would be nice but no, there’s no room for the walking. It’s better if people drive because they will get there faster. And if they walk they will not want to carry anything they buy. Driving is better. They can put the stuff they bought in the trunk. There has to be some souvenirs from the trip, some memento look at and remember that we were once there in the dark and in the wind, full moon and Christmas at the same time and some reminder that life can be different if enough money is spent.
There has been literally twenty-five minutes of sunshine in the Sunshine State in the last twenty-four hours. The balcony from which I write this overlooks the Gulf and it is beautiful and I am half naked. There is something to be said for the warmth here, even though it wasn’t cold when I left Hickory Head. There is also something to be said about the sound of pounding surf. The high winds that refuse to blow the fog completely away also provides with some excellent background noise. There is also the smell of the salt air, even in the fog, and there’s a cleanness about the ocean that lifts the spirit and soothes the soul. I can see why so many writers have sought out the sea as a Muse. This is a delicious environment for the mind to feast upon. Even with the wet wind, and drippy fog, the clammy feeling on all hard surfaces dewy with moisture, this is still a magnificent place. This would be an easy addiction. There is a powerful draw to having the vastness at arm’s length from the fingertips while they write. The balcony is on the tenth floor and there are seagulls flying underneath me. How can someone write something small when such greatness exists on the very air that is being breathed? The wind pushes the waves, carries the gulls, and surrounds everything like the breath of the planet. Even as I type this out on the screen I can hear the raucous cry of a gull wheeling a few feet from where I sit.
There is a child flying a kite on the beach and it looks to be a few feet lower than my elevation. Yet the wind will not keep the craft in the air. I think the capricious breeze is too strong, too unsteady, and the child appears to be losing interest. There is a lot going on near the beach with each wave having the potential of washing ashore the body of a dead pirate or a massive whale. There are fragments of shells to examine and who knows what else might be attached to that piece of driftwood? There’s a certain sense of mystery involved with being here. The ocean may or may not offer some odd gift. The rush of the waves churns and churns and churns and anything long lost may once again see the light of day, maybe just briefly, and perhaps it will be gone for another thousands years, or be back after the next wave pushes it around.
It is time for me to fold this device up and heed the call of the ocean. I must go walk on the beach and discover something, nothing, everything, and all things. From the oceans we came and back to the ocean we ought to go.