I close my eyes taking a deep breath and the first sip of my piña colada. I can smell the intoxicating coconut as I let its chilly contents make the journey down to my tummy. Scent is one of the most powerful senses, its ability to shoot us back to another place and time is unparalleled to any of our faculties. I am in Madeira Beach, but when I close my eyes years of piña coladas flicker over the backdrops of my eyelids.
This drink is paradise to me. Do you have a flavor that symbolizes that for you? I hope you do.
The bay moves gracefully, but then i’m sure you knew that. You can just see it in the photos, can’t you? Its energy reverberating in the trinkets lazily spread across the common area, the overgrown foliage in the old flower pots, the mismatched patio furniture, it’s all swaying to the rhythm of the ocean. This is life for us Floridians. I never use that word being from Miami. We’re separatists like that, either identifying ourselves by our zip code (not South Florida, Miami, thank you) or with even more detachment, our family’s country of origin.
But in reality, we’re just the same creatures. And as Floridians, we all hear the bay’s music and instinctually sync to its steady beat. That’s what this getaway centered itself around. We barely made it to any of the places I had dutifully looked up in the days leading to our trip. Everything we did was focused on the dock of the bay. Morning coffee, afternoon piña coladas, late night beers and grocery store dinners, twas all an informal kind of perfect.
The bay sucked us in for hours sometimes, and it was easy to sit in silence or casually open up about what was troubling us these past few weeks. Life, money, responsibilities, our careers, it’s all worries that constantly hang over our consciousness. It’s only when I’m here that I become keenly aware of my habit to operate at a medium level of stress. Constantly looking ahead to my next move, forgetting to give the moment the respect and effort it deserves.
Here is what matters: the present.
It’s so clear to me now that we’re here. Even when we’re with family and friends kicking some back and talking about funny stories and comedians who joke about quaaludes. We forget that this is what it’s about, human connection. If we were to make this our greatest focus, everything else would fall into place. We live in a world that can value being depleted. Running around, answering dozens of emails, barely having time to pee, these are misguided signs of true success. Personal time and relationships are the greatest value we will have in this life. It’s the richest form of currency, and it’s sitting right in front of us most of the time.