My mom grew up in Florida and I owe great gratitude to her, my dad and grandparents for giving us kids the pleasure of summer beach trips. Little did I know then that long car rides from the mid-west to Florida would be the start of something I would later refer to as Jellyfish Therapy. For those of you poor souls who have never been to beach, let alone just floated along like a jellyfish, I feel badly for you. For the experience of just floating along, limp, carefree, peaceful, weightless in the salt water with the sun kissing your body is unlike anything else and I highly recommend it. It’s just you, the sound of your breathing and the water wrapping you like a blanket of pure love. At our house, we call it “Jellyfish Therapy.” Highly recommended on a calm body of salt water like the Gulf of Mexico, it could be done elsewhere I suppose.
Now, this type of therapy didn’t happen by accident. It happened because my parents spent hours teaching us to swim, how to relax and float, and to enjoy getting salty and sandy. In addition to the sun, salt and sand throughout the years, we ate countless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, consumed our weight in cheese puffs, drank grape and orange Fanta and were slathered in vats of Coppertone. To this day whenever I taste Fanta or catch a whiff of the unmistakable fragrance of Coppertone, it takes me back to a childhood filled with riding waves, my sisters and I wearing matching bathing suits, and spending time in Noxema after a little too much sun.
My grandparents lived in a little house in Ft. Pierce…no air conditioning but an attic fan that kept us cool and sounded like a 747 ready to take off. There was this great big banyon tree out front that we would climb and there were mounds of earthworms that we would dig through.
We made daily trips to the beach and would stay all day. We would ride waves, build sandcastles, watch the Australian pines blow in the wind and listen to stories about the jetties being WWII training grounds for the Normandy invasion, how Florida was so close to Cuba during the missile crisis, how my mom would climb the pines when she was young and so on. See mom, I was listening. It was on that same beach I would get my first teenage kiss from the son of my mom’s dear friends. Magical, wonderful memories.
Since those days, I still love to go to the beach. Perhaps that is one reason our family moved back to Florida after years away. Like turtles, we had that primordial urge to go back to the beach that calls to us. And, while it has changed over the years, and more sophisticated roadways make it easier to discover new beaches, the beach calls more often than I can go to it.
This past weekend, my daughter and I went to St. Petersburg Beach where we enjoyed a couple of days of “Jellyfish Therapy” mixed with laughter, singing, cruising the beach road, watching fireworks, listening to a great guitarist Daniel Giron at the Don Cesar Resort, eating German food, witnessing a beach wedding, and so much more. While only two hours away, it was a world apart from the day-to-day grind. To unplug, get “off the grid,” not be accountable to anyone but oneself is refreshing. To reconnect with my daughter is priceless and hopefully I have given her memories of the beach over the years that she too can pass along to her kids one day.
So, I hope that this summer you too can “unplug” from the grind and find your own “Jellyfish Therapy.” It might be hiking in the mountains, running a marathon, taking a family roadtrip to grandma’s house, or just enjoying a staycation. Whatever “it is,” know that it is yours to catalog in the annals of time.
If you cant’ make it to the beach but want to really relish in some of the meaning of it’s hosts, the shells, check out the book “Gift From the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It is a wonderful collection of thoughts and how five types of shells can speak to us at any stage in our lives. A treasured book my mom gave to me. Thanks Mom. Every time I go to the beach or read the book, it makes life a little easier to understand. Here’s my mom with her dear friends the Croghans and with “flat Caitlyn” at the beach.