I grew up at the beach in Corpus Christi, Texas. From the age of 9 to when I moved to Dallas to attend SMU, I spent countless hours at the beach. We watched newborn sea turtles make their way to the water, I ran cross country races on the beach, we celebrated birthdays (my mom's 40th!) at the beach, and spent countless lazy afternoons doing nothing but collecting shells, building sand castles and playing in the water. (We also might have kicked a few jellyfish and fed Cheetos to sea gulls.) It was free entertainment when money was tight (which was always) and a place to take family when they came to visit. As I grew older, the beach became my refuge, a place I would go late at night to ponder my place in the world. I'd drive out, sometimes after midnight, with Caesar, our Doberman, and just sit in the car and watch the waves. Everything about the beach made me feel at home and at peace with myself. I loved feeling the sand between my toes, the wind in my hair and against my face, the smell of the saltwater and grass-covered dunes; it all spoke to me at a level beyond comprehension. I didn't realize how much I loved the beach until I moved to Dallas and was forced to live w/o it. White Rock Lake is great, but it's not the same.
In late August, I had a chance to return to my beloved beach. My father-in-law needed help closing up his vacation home in Port Isabel, Texas, so my husband and I packed up the girls and headed south --- as far south as you can go in Texas w/o hitting Mexico. I snapped the pictures our first day on the beach. They're of my father-in-law, husband and our two girls walking hand-in-hand down a stretch of sand on South Padre Island. It happened so fast. I had been sitting along the water's edge, sticking my toes in the sand, soaking up the precious rays and inhaling the salty air when I glanced over and saw them. My husband was walking down the beach with our then 8-month-old daughter on his shoulders while his father walked along next to him, holding hands with our 3-year-old daughter- who spent the entire weekend calling Papa Bill her "best friend". The scene took my breath away. I managed to snap a picture, but the real picture remains in my head as a moment in time that I'll cherish forever. It felt a lot like the scene in Field of Dreams when Ray's dad asks him whether this is heaven and Ray (played by Kevin Costner) looks around at his farm/baseball field, sees his family laughing on the porch of his farm house, and says "yes." To me, that moment on the beach represented heaven and was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen or experienced.
(This entry was prompted by the final assignment for a graduate class on beauty. This was the assignment: prepare a 5-minute presentation about something you find beautiful.)