Chapter 2 - Preliminary Plans
We spent the next couple of hours poring over maps, and plotting out possible itineraries. After a while, we decided to take a break and go for our walk. Usually on Sunday mornings we go to the beach at Ponce Inlet and eat lunch at a bar in Port Orange that serves fabulous chicken wings. Since it is Bike Week in Daytona Beach, we decided to steer clear of there. Instead, we headed off to our regular week-day beach-walking spot, Smyrna Dunes State Park.
We moved to New Smyrna Beach ten years ago, having retired early after twenty five years teaching in the Columbus public schools. Moving from Columbus, Ohio, to Florida has been a huge adjustment for both Joe and me. There are many things about living in Florida we both find troublesome, but our proximity to the ocean makes it worth putting up with the irritations, at least as far as I am concerned. We live a few miles inland, but we go to the beach every day, weather permitting. Often we go even in the rain because Joe is weird for rain.
We pulled into the parking lot and the regular attendant greeted us. The parking lot was full. I like it better during the week when we often have the place to ourselves, especially in the winter time. Joe squeezed into a space between two SUV's that was really too small. Ordinarily I would have yelled at him for that, but I decided to cut him some slack because I appreciated the fact that he didn't give me a hard time about the trip to Santa Fe. He paused for a minute before he got out of the car. I know he was waiting for me to kick up a fuss about his parking. I tried not to let my smile show. I heard him chuckle and then I winked at him. We are the only people I know who can have an entire argument and make up, all without saying a word.
It was a beautiful March day in Central Florida. There wasn't even a hint of a cloud in the sky. On a clear day, the sky at the seashore never fails to cause me to marvel, as Mr. Rogers would say. I never recall it being that shade of blue or that clear in the Midwest. The temperature was in the high seventies, with winds out of the southeast, meaning that it would be warm enough to walk on the beach without a jacket. It also meant there was the potential for having to navigate around seaweed and jelly-fish.
We walked around the boardwalk and went our separate ways at the first dune walkover. Joe and I hardly ever walk together. We have different walking styles. Hell, we have different styles in everything we do. Joe walks like a puppy. He stops every five seconds to pick up shells or other stuff he finds. He stops to talk to everyone he meets. He can take an hour or more to walk a mile. I like to walk at the edge of the water and I go strictly for distance. I rarely pick up shells or other flotsam or jetsam, unless I spy something really unusual. Our house is full of the crap Joe drags home. I don't need to add to it. What is more, I don't talk to people. I don't stop for anything other than to help lost children or tourists who ask me to take their picture (which happens quite often).
When we reach the first dune walkover, I go one way and Joe goes the other. We meet back at the car at an appointed time, usually allowing about two hours, sometimes longer on really nice days. During the week, we go home to, as Joe says, 'have lunch with the dogs.' On the weekends, we usually go out for lunch. We always go to one of two or three places and we always order the same things. We are such boring and predictable old farts already, I shudder to think what we will be like when we get really old. We'll undoubtedly be just like the crotchety old people we currently bitch about. I hope so, because there is delicious poetic justice in that!
After our walk, we stopped for lunch at our favorite seafood restaurant. We ate at a picnic table on the dock, watching the boats on the intra-coastal waterway. By the time we finished eating, it was late enough to call Laura and Tim regarding our plans. I took my shoes off and tilted my face to the sun, only half listening to Joe and Laura talking. The whole trip sounded wonderful except for one thing: the thought of being away from the ocean for more than a day or two at a time makes me sad. I can't say exactly why it is, but I have some kind of soul-felt need to be near the seashore.
When I was a kid, my parents loved to fish so we spent virtually all our vacations in Destin, Florida. I used to cry when it was time to go back to Ohio. Every time we visited the ocean after Joe and I got married, I cried when we left. In the ten years we have lived in Florida, I have tried to avoid traveling very far inland for more than a day or so. I am precisely where I want to be. I don't want to go any place else. Joe likes to travel, so I humor him as long as we take our vacations to places where there is a beach, or at least a large lake or a big river. If it were up to me I would never leave Volusia County other than perhaps for an occasional trip to Cocoa Beach or St. Augustine for a change of scenery.
I have everything I ever wanted in life right here. I guess I must be the luckiest and happiest person on the planet. The problem with being that contented is that the inertia is so strong, it's a huge effort for me to do anything beyond my regular routine. That drives Joe bonkers.
Joe handed the phone to me and I spoke with Laura for a few minutes. After I hung up Joe asked me if I wanted another beer. I said, "No. Let's go. I want to look through my closet. Some of the places we talked about visiting may still be cold this time of the year. I think I may have to go shopping."
He laughed and said, "That's a better excuse than you usually have for buying new clothes you don't really need."
>©2009 by Meredith Morgan