I feel this gravitational pull towards you, like the universe and all its galaxies had a talk and said “yeah, it’s time.”
It’s been almost three years since I fell in love. Like all great love stories, I wasn’t expecting it. It was a normal day, really. I woke up, had my usual copious cups of black coffee sitting next to the surf, then breakfast. I was on a work trip to start up a new project. This location was one of my favored—springtime, on a semi deserted beach. I’d been to the area on vacation a couple of times in the past. It was a typical beach town in Florida. Beach bars, touristy souvenir shops, dolphin tours, umbrellas and cabanas lining the shore, and the smell of coconut tanning oil…ahhh. Since I’d spent my toddler years in a similar locale, being on a beach was like coming home, and coupled with my Indonesian heritage, in my blood, so to say. In fact, my high school ambition was pretty simple—to live on a beach. No grandiose plans to save the world or be a superstar. I just wanted a cottage, with hydrangeas surrounding a white picket fence on Cape Cod, where I could spend my summers writing trashy romance novels that would be on the NYT bestseller list (or not. As long as I got to write on a beach…that’s all I really wanted).
Of course like all good plot lines, my life trajectory strayed far from that idyllic dream of my teen years. My more pragmatic side (beach cottages on Cape Cod are really expensive) took over and I pursued engineering for my bachelors. Then I had the bright idea to marry my love of research and teaching and be a college professor. Well, one doctorate plus post doctoral training and numerous twists and turns, here I am in industry. But like all great romances, the seeming detour off my original path led to the unexpected.
I’d been asked because of my postdoctoral training to head out to the Florida lab near the beach. I’d been having a good week with my new colleagues. The week wrapped up and clouds rolled in late afternoon. I was a bit bummed since I’d been hoping to catch a sunset on the last evening in town. I headed back to the hotel, had dinner, and looked out. The surf was rolling and the clouds crowded the sky. I decided to go for a drive farther south from where I was staying to check out some other hotels. I knew I’d be back for more work, and my adventurer side wanted to stay at a few different locales to shake it up. I like to explore. I drove about 20 minutes south with windows open, humid air offsetting the air conditioner I had on at full blast. The farther south I went, the more color the sky took on. Finally I stopped at the public beach parking, jumped out of my car, ran over the walkway, and onto the beach. Powdered sand met my bare feet, and I walked close to the surf. Slowly turning around, the wind blew my quickly curling hair off my face, feeling like a lover’s caress on my cheeks. As I gazed at the sky, the clouds turned from pink, to purple, to bright reds and oranges. Fire in the sky. The air was like velvet and I felt the clouds blanket me and hold me close. My whole soul sighed and I fell. I was in love. I was home.
Today I live just south of a pink palace in this paradise. Doesn’t every heroine in the romance tale need a castle? I split my time there and other places in the world. Every time I leave, my soul aches till I get back. I collect sunsets on the beach to fortify myself before I leave. Like learning a new lover, every one, cloudy, raining, the perfect one melting into the horizon, is different, beautiful, and special. And like all true love, every experience strengthens the connection.