Every year when I was growing up, my parents and I would take a trip down to the Bon Aire Resort on the beach in St. Pete Beach, Florida. We would go in October for my parent’s wedding anniversary which was a good time to get away from the frigid air in Wisconsin. When I had started going to school, we realized that there was the teacher’s convention during that time where students had a few days off, so my parents didn’t feel as bad about taking me out for a week or two. Since it was always at the end of October, it was nice being able to trick or treat in the heat, unlike back home. There was a time or two that I was home for trick or treating, like the year I was dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. It was raining that day so the red, sparkly shoes I was wearing turned my white bobby socks pink. Also I had to wear a winter coat that covered up most of my costume but I insisted that I was having fun. I mean, all that matters is getting candy, right?
Anyway, most of my time in Florida was spent living in the pool, making up cool dives and flips and getting a nice tan. I think my record was 6 hours. I swear I wanted to literally be a mermaid. My mom would make me take breaks to do my homework, make grilled cheese sandwiches with black bean soup or eat a burger from the hotel’s restaurant Sandbar Bill’s, and write in my journal. Man, I hated having to write what I did everyday so that I could share about my trip with my classmates when I got back. Well, I guess things have changed as I sit here typing away.
At night, I would spend my time eating a popsicle while I caught little lizards with an empty cup on the shuffleboard court and set them free. Sometimes the artist that would sell his jewelry on the beach during the day would play music at night. I can still remember dancing to “Brown Eyed Girl” and singing along. But after spending the whole day outside in the sun, I was definitely ready for bed.
In the mornings we would wake up, grab donuts from the front lobby and take a stroll along the beach. I would look for shells as we walked down to the “big pink building” otherwise known as the Don CeSar Hotel. I loved finding the cat paw shells and have always wondered how they got their shape. One year from the surf shop Wings, we bought a post card that had all the different kinds of shells on it and I would use it to study my findings once we got back to the hotel. We still have boxes and boxes of shells stored away in the basement and they just might come in handy someday, especially for recalling the memories.
Throughout the years we made a lot of friends from countries from around the world. There were the “snow birds,” or the people from Canada and northern US, that would be there year after year and they became like my adopted grandparents. One year a man named John bought me my first set of pogs which, growing up in the 90s, made me the coolest kid in school for a week. There were also a lot of families that would come from England or Ireland and I always had fun talking to those kids and mimicking their accents. Before they would leave we would exchange currencies so I built quite the coin collection that I have added to throughout the years with my travels.
So I guess that is how it all began. Writing a blog, collecting coins, traveling and meeting different people from around the world was something that I have been doing all along. Someday I know that I will go back and see all the places that I knew as a child. Idea! Let’s go swimming!