florida | for the fourth, and also my sanity.

the last time i went to the beach, i was in california, for my birthday, and we pulled off the side of the PCH, climbed down the steep hill, and sat on a blanket in the sand. i personally don't think this counts because i was wearing jeans, we only stayed for like thirty minutes AKA no tan, and i didn't smell like sunscreen, have beach hair, or feel the need to shower upon leaving.

(but it totally counts in that i touched the pacific ocean, okay.)

the time before that, i think, was before i moved to nashville three years ago: the weekend after i was supposed to move. i still went to nashville that week, but what was supposed to be permanent was only temporary, and instead of flying back with my parents, i flew to florida to stay with my aunt and go to the beach and contemplate my whole life.

there's nothing like standing in front of something so massive and beautiful and largely unknown to make you feel like your problems aren't so big, like maybe you are strong enough to face them.

this trip was particularly timely, given the state of my life currently. which is to say, i feel like nobody adequately prepared me for what mid-twenties life is like and i would like my money back. (and by that, of course, i mean i would like to have some money.)

please enjoy this low-quality photo displaying the sheer excitement from my mom and i regarding THE BEACH WE ARE STANDING ON AND THE OCEAN BEHIND US.

my mom and i, we are beach people. my dad, well, let's just say that upon our return to the parking lot, he commented that he didn't realize we'd go all the way down to the ocean and have a photo shoot and could you please rinse your feet off in this puddle so i don't get sand in my car?

i arrived (late, thanks to a delayed flight) to my dad asking if we could go get ice cream, and all i could think about was how this is what it means to live apart from someone: to not know if this was a random craving or is he used to having a nightly dish of ice cream?

either way, i'm thankful for it because it meant seeing the beach, and that ice cream has pretzels mixed in there.


thing i learned about my dad on this trip: he goes to the beach fully clothed, with socks and sneakers.

heart eyes all day. this fudge shop smelled like actual heaven.

this is irrelevant, but i just realized my hair is down in these photos and i have no idea how, considering the outrageous levels of humidity. T can vouch for this, because she is always the recipient of my most (least) flattering photos, but my hair could not deal. (think monica from the one in barbados.)

on this day, we woke up at 5am to watch the sun rise and it was my idea.

everyone was shocked that i'm aware that hour even exists + "why?" "have you never seen the sun rise over the ocean before?" "....but. why ?"

why not though?

there ARE reasons i am willing to wake up before the sun rises: luca, and the beach. i will take either at any time of day, sleep or no sleep.



^ proof that i was actually there, frizzy hair and all.

J joined in on the fun this day.

listen, i like my parents and my aunts (seriously, new found appreciation for aunts everywhere now that i am one), but i was stoked to have someone from my generation to hang out with.

also my brother is the coolest and we never get to hang out a lot by ourselves anymore.

for a person who is afraid of fire (and fireworks), i LOVE fireworks on the fourth of july.

we had plans to watch the fireworks on the beach, or on the pier, but it rained that evening and we ended up just walking around the neighborhood instead. this one house put on a pretty spectacular show.

we grew up going to the beach every summer, but here is what i realized during this trip. this is how we beach:

my mom likes to be tan. she often goes without sunscreen, or applies very little SPF, or uses the kind that says it's sunscreen on the packaging but appears to be more like tanning oil once you apply it. she sits in her chair and risks a potential sore back by laying on her stomach in the sand, all in the name of an even tan. however, she doesn't just love the beach for the tanning, she also loves the ocean. she goes all in, isn't afraid to get her hair wet, and feels disappointed in baby waves. she's a true mom in that she reminds us to wear sunscreen and the proper way to react if we're ever caught in a strong undertow, but the thing about being a grown up is that you realize that even your mom is human. which is why, after seeing a rather large wave coming towards her and J while they were out wave jumping, she looked at him and said, "what do i do?"

my dad is not a beach person. he doesn't like chocolate either, and while one has nothing at all to do with the other, i just feel the need to point it out so you have more of an understanding when i say, ???? if i had to guess, i would say two hours is his max when it comes to time spent at the beach. after that, he's ready to go and he will make sure you know it. while i have seen him wear a bathing suit to the beach before, he chose to go fully dressed in regular clothes this trip so he wouldn't "feel pressured" to go in the water. he also wears socks and sneakers because this one time he burned his feet so bad... but he doesn't wear sunscreen because "i need more vitamin D." i think this is code for "i want to be tan, and sunscreen prevents that from happening, but i'm not admitting that out loud." but that's just my opinion. it is worth nothing that he did take off his socks and sneaks to dip his toes in the water AND he chose to stay at the beach after lunch on sunday because he was "actually enjoying himself."

J is like a child when he's at the beach. he likes being in the water more than anything, i think, but he'll stay with everyone else for the sake of being social. or because it's boring by yourself. but if you're laying out, decide you're too hot, and get up to go in the water to cool off, he'll notice and ask, "are you going in the water??" because he wants in on that. he'll sit in a chair on the beach if that's where we are, but he's not interested in tanning, probably thanks to one too many killer sunburns. if there aren't enough chairs, he'd rather sit and play in the sand than lay on a towel. he's not afraid to apply and reapply sunscreen, and if he thinks he's getting too much sun, he'll put on a shirt. if everyone else is just standing in ankle-deep water, he'll hang around too, but eventually he'll sit down and start playing in the wet sand, looking for ...baby clams? basically anything alive.

i like "catching a sun tan," as i used to say when i was little, but i also know that skin cancer is a real thing and you CAN still get tan while wearing sunscreen, so i apply and reapply and ask everyone else when the last time they applied was. depending on my hair washing cycle, i will get in and get my hair wet while wave jumping, but these waters aren't clear and also there are sharks and, you know what, it's really okay that i just don't love going in the water as much as my mom and J do. the things i love most about the beach are the way it looks when a wave crashes, the way it sounds, and the way you can feel that phantom push and pull of the ocean as you're falling asleep after a long day at the beach. but you know what? i really just love all of it. it's the only time i will ever be dirty, sandy, sweaty, with bad hair and no makeup, wearing essentially nothing in public, and totally okay with it.

(those people in the water are mom and J.)

i took A LOT of beach photos. it's the same with anything you're trying to capture in a photo: the way clouds look from an airplane with that light, or your nephew when he does anything at all, or the way the ocean looks in that moment when all the water gets pulled back from the sand and curls forward just before it crashes. pictures never do it justice, but yet you try and try until your phone storage is full and still none of them truly capture it. i think maybe it's because we're trying to capture more than just the image. we're trying to capture what it looks like, sure, but also the way it feels. the way we feel, experiencing it. because wouldn't that be incredible, to be able to capture a full moment in time, to bottle it up somehow, to save it for a day when you need reminding.

i guess that's the point. sometimes a moment is created with a camera, and sometimes you just need to appreciate the moment that's happening without one.

my dad was constantly sighing at all my "photo shoots." but when he spotted this shark, he said, "now here's something i'm willing to do a photo shoot with!"

the thing about this photo is that my dad walked over, sat right down, and posed without me saying a word. what's even more incredible is that it had just rained, and he knew it, and yet he still sat down on that bench for the sake of the photo.