My first trip to St. Pete Beach was in '04. I went to see a dear friend. Many years prior, we had a very unfortunate falling out. Outside the plane window, I saw the blue of the ocean, and the green of the grass - colors not often seen in a Buckeye January. I was going to see my friend, who at the time lived in St. Petersburg. My eyes were full of tears that a reconciliation was at hand.
I stayed at a place her mom and dad knew, and I ended up buying a week there. The concept of "buying a week on a calendar" was bizarre, but they explained it to me, and I followed through. I have never regretted it. It has been the place where many friends of mine have been able to escape the winter during "Week 5."
St. Pete Beach has been a place of restoration, repair, and relaxation. I realized today that it is precious to me. Four and a half years ago, it is the place where two cancer survivors did a 60-mile, 2 day walk, and somehow talked me into joining them. I realized that I had more physical strength than I knew. It's a place where a last minute New Year's Eve concert translated into a revitalizing walk on the beach on New Year's Day '06, when I realized I had (finally) come through the grief fully and even more edified. It is where I've been able to nurse many wounds from the years of dealing with Darren's illness and rest my physical body and my mental pain. It's where I've had so much fun with dear friends. Walking down to the "pink birthday cake hotel," it is a place where I contemplate dreams.
Now that we've made the radical, only slightly impulsive, decision to leave early (Saturday!), I have hopes that more areas of my life will be healed and restored - no matter what that looks like.
Some may say I am going because I can't resist the "rack of lamb" at the restaurant across the street. Ok, so a healthy appetite is a good sign in some respects, but it is so much more than that, this excursion. It is a place that heals me.