“Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
Well, okay, maybe not dolphins – but they have been known to arc out of the ocean along the Jersey coast, and I needed a third animal to complete the title, so there you go. The seagulls and the monkey, though, they are most descriptive of Friday’s excursion to the beach with Kaitlin, Caitlin , and Kyle. It was something I’d been looking forward to for months, a chance to meet up with some fantastic friends I originally met online (thanks to Diana DeGarmo!) and spend time together in person.
We lucked out with a beautiful day – wispy, tissue-paper clouds tumbling across a cerulean sky, sunbeams bouncing down from above and making the ocean look like it was filled with millions of glittery diamonds, a gentle breeze that wound ribbons through the air. We hung out on the beach for hours and didn’t stop chatting for even a minute. That book I brought to finish reading? Not so much. Kaitlin and I gabbed about writing, editing, querying, reading, and publishing for … well, I don’t know, but it was a long time.
We spent quite awhile in the ocean, too – it was a gorgeous seventy-nine degrees! – and then headed back up to our blankets for more chatting, more seagull-watching, and more quality time with great friends.
Then it was off to dinner (biggest pizza slices E-V-E-R), dessert (I heart Polish Water Ice!), and mini-golf. Where, I feel the need to say, I won a game for the first time in years. Sure, it was more a stroke of luck than any actual talent on my part, but that’s okay. I’ll take it. What none of us could take? The oh-so-lovely monkey that clamored, screeched, sang, and danced as we played. Seriously, why would you use this as a decorative piece for a boardwalk mini-golf course? We were … perplexed.
A short walk on the boardwalk made for the perfect ending to the day. I adore everything about the shore and always will, but if I had to choose a very favorite part, that’d be it. There’s something almost magical about strolling along those wooden boards while listening to the waves crash against the sand, watching the seagulls soar through the sky, and smelling that intoxicating salty ocean air. Hope floats at the beach, and it crests along the coast. Truly. It has been such a difficult few months, but in Ocean City, I was able to just … breathe. And, because this is the way it seems to work, that momentary oasis cast sparkles of inspiration into the atmosphere. I came home with not one, but two new ideas for books that I am excited to explore. For anyone wondering, that now makes four on my To-Write list. Wouldn’t it be super if the rest of the edits on my current manuscript just revised themselves so I could answer the characters who keep telling me to write their stories? Maybe if I snap my fingers?
No? Well, that’s okay, because I’m actually quite enjoying the editing process. You’d think I wouldn’t, since I’m working so much on it, but that’s not the case. Sure, I’ve come to loathe certain words: beautiful, embrace, abandoned, and imagine (it NEVER fails, there are different phrases I overuse every single time). On a whole, though, I’m having fun tightening up the manuscript and watching it grow stronger in the process. Sofie and the other characters have given me such joy over the past year – hard to believe Saturday will be a year since I wrote the first chapter of Reflections of Me – and I owe it to them to make this second story of theirs the best version of itself as possible. I wouldn’t give them any less. So while I’m itching to get writing again (you know, other than the massive amount of queries I’ve been working on lately), those ideas can wait awhile longer. But the inspiration behind them? That feeling of pure freedom and unencumbered happiness that the shore brings? It’ll stay with me, and so will the fantastic friends who shared the day with me. Thanks for a wonderful day, you three. I am already looking forward to next time.
Do you have a special place where you can just let go and let it be? Any destinations that inspire you?