Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Boots on the Beach.

Sometimes life comes at you hard. Work drains you, stresses build, and disappointment creeps its ugly head at the worst times.

Usually I'm a fighter with the heart of an optimist. I want to be tough, so I play resiliently, and stand my ground. I tell myself I can handle things. I remind myself of my blessings, face forward, and carry on. But every now and then, a suggestion rolls into play that is exactly the answer I wasn't looking for. And it's a relief to know that my Jesus is looking out for me via the people I hold closest.

On Monday, January 23rd, I got an email from my friend Krista at 8:30am (the minute I start work) as follows:

"ugh. I already hate today... and I'm in serious need of a little getaway. I'm literally going to look at some plane tickets to see if there is anything reasonable to go anywhere warm. want to go with me?"

two hours later I had had an email in my inbox with this title:
":Fwd: Expedia travel confirmation - Feb 24, 2012 - (Itin#14261925...)"

Friends and travel are my release. An ongoing item on my bucket list is to go one place a year that I've never been before. Experiencing new places in general, rejuvenates and inspires me. Which means boarding a plane that was headed towards the beach, with a carry on and friend in tow, held as much promise of overall healing as the therapeutic massage and vitamin D packed sunshine that was promised on the other side of our flight.

The 4 weeks between booking and go-time was short enough to free us from months of agonizing vacation countdown, yet far enough away to give us space to daydream about what the trip could be. I want milkshakes. I want to walk on the beach and a starbucks coffee. "How about driving with the windows down, and stopping wherever we want?", suggested Krista. "Perfect", was the only word I could think of in response.

And even though our GPS sent us to a hotel that was on a strip stacked with way too many trashy "surf shops", and right across the street from a seasonal "theme park", if you saw the view from our sliding glass door, you'd have no complaints either.

We stood on the deck of our optional upgrade, and admired the way God crafted this country to go exactly that far East, and then opted to drop a vast ocean, right there. amazing. We gathered our magazines, gummy bears, and sunglasses, took a seat in our matching chairs, and had nothing on our agenda beyond decompressing. "I'm going to tell baby Mast that this was his first trip to Myrtle Beach", said Krista as she lovingly acknowledged her belly. I sipped from my coffee cup, smiled, and told her how I was pretty sure that was the first way I had ever been to St. Louis. Via my mothers womb. And it definitely counts.

I love group vacations where laughs are multiplied, and chatting rarely takes a break; but there's something about traveling solo with a friend that was new, low key, and easy. We had plans and no plans at the same time. We knew we wanted room service one morning, seeing as we are both advocates of getting out of bed as late as possible, whenever possible. So with one order of french toast, a veggie omelet add ham, and 2 calls back from room service to confirm it was a veggie omelet ADD HAM?!... our first plan was checked off the list.

The rest of the weekend followed similar suit. The great thing about having limited plans, is the space it leaves for opportunity to grow, and experiences to happen. We went for massages and got complementary foot soaks. And when we weren't in a rush to leave, the BK onion ring eating hair stylist stopped Krista to ask if she could attempt to tell the gender of the baby using a pencil, string, and paper clip. I mean, why not? When in Rome...

We traveled some of the best roads that state has to offer. Roads lined with lush trees that don't take the Winter off like they do back home. Roads lined with beach homes and sand. Roads that led to dead ends that didn't bother us. Mainly because we liked the roads so much the first time we traveled them, we were far less than mad when given the opportunity to have a second look. We drove down a road that had a sign that read, "Sunset Beach - this right", and with a "I want to go there" from Krista, we were off. And when we found it, it was exactly what we didn't know we were looking for.

We wore boots on the beach. We walked and talked, and walked and didn't talk. The cool weather leaving a practically empty beach for us to explore. And the crispness of the air making the blueness of the sky an exact match for what you would dream up on a day like that. For a while we just sat. We let sand get in our boots, and made attempts to catch sun flare in the lenses of our cameras to take home with us.

We road tripped up to Wilmington, and made it everything a roadtrip should be. We rolled the windows down, gawked when appropriate, did our best to keep up with Luda on the radio, and made stops for whatever we wanted.... including souvenirs, once in a lifetime photo ops, and dinner at the best Mexican meets BBQ place we'll ever eat in our lives. We played the roll of tourists, grew in friendship, and as if having a pregnant lady in the car needed an excuse to get milkshakes for our drive back to Myrtle Beach, we did that too.

It was a tiny trip, only 3 days, but was so full of some of the best things in life. Falling asleep to the ocean, watching way too many episodes of Friends, relaxation, wind in our hair, french fries, day dreams, cute waiters, airbrushed t-shirts, ice cream, sleeping in, no dishes to wash, rental cars, and having special time with a friend on her last big trip before her and her husband welcome a sweet baby boy into this big, beautiful, fun world.

Even though life can come at us hard, it can also serve up some of the best of times. And sometimes, it takes stepping away from the monotony of day to day to realize how good life really is. And then, before I know it, thankfulness has a way of sneaking up to remind me of all the good that is capable of getting packed into my one small life.

Even when we left on Monday morning, it wasn't without one last reminder of how much good even a Monday morning is capable of :)

We came home refreshed and thankful for the gifts that only spontaneous trips with the best of friends are capable of. enriching, fun, and packed with all sorts of unexpected goodness.