Beach Diaries: Or, How I Survived 7 Days of a Florida Summer

Last month I embarked on a looooong journey to Florida with my family. The 12 hour drive felt more like a week, so by the time we hit the Florida state line I was ready to throw myself out the window and walk the rest of the way. It’s not that my family is bad, it’s just that they’re very chatty. All the time. I did not get any reading done on the drive there. I think I read a chapter on the drive back.

I was hesitant to go on this trip for several reasons:

1. I don’t really have the money for a vacation and

2. Florida in June is not the place I would pick to go.

But I went anyway, to stay in a house with 7 adults and 2 very small children. It was much different than I expected. The house we stayed in was spacious and modern, with a nice pool in the back yard. We had private access to a beach just a short walk from the house, which we definitely took advantage of.

That part of the vacation was wonderful. I went to the beach everyday, and swam in the pool several times a day. We ate tons of seafood and spent most of the time playing with the kids or just hanging out. My dad and I even took an hour and a half bike ride. But I’ll admit that I had other plans for vacation.

I thought that we didn’t have any “real” plans for the week, so I could just wander around, biking to the shops and writing there. But as it turns out the shops were over a mile away and the sun makes me weak. I ran out of sunscreen by the third day and angered my siblings by using theirs. Oops. I had brought 4 notebooks, 2 books, and my e-reader to keep myself busy. I had decided that I wanted to journal every evening, and do real writing in the morning or any time I wasn’t in the pool. I was hilariously optimistic that day we arrived.

My first journal entry was all about how wonderful my room upstairs was because I had a balcony. I was going to take my coffee out there and write while everyone got ready for the day. I was not aware that small children get up at 6:30am every day, and knew how to get to my room and whisper “Jessi…” under the door. I also didn’t know that my family had appointed me head coffee maker for the trip, which meant I got a text very early that first morning from my brother wondering where the coffee was.

Every morning after that went about the same. It wasn’t really so bad, because I love my niece and nephew. I was happy to spend every morning helping them eat breakfast get ready for the beach. The only problem was that I don’t like going to bed early. Everyone else, except my mom and sometimes my dad, would go to bed by 9 or 9:30. I’m used to staying up until at least midnight. Most nights later than that. So it was a little difficult to break my routine of going to bed late, even though I was being woken up early every day.

So my plan of coffee on the balcony was put aside (for good reasons) so I decided to do my writing at night. That, of course, kept me up even later. I took a notebook to the beach, but it was hard to focus on writing when my niece wanted to put wet sand on my legs. This also meant that I didn’t take any cool beach pictures like I planned. I did get one good sunset picture, and a whole bunch of awkward ones, with my phone.

So my big plan of reading all these books and getting a good chunk of my possible-fanfiction story written didn’t go as planned. I did spend quite a bit of time journaling, which was like stumbling back in time. That was how I started writing as a kid. I would lock myself in my room, away from my siblings, and just write until I couldn’t write anymore. It felt good to write, but it always brought up some painful feelings from when I was younger. I was not really a happy kid.

Beach picture

I put on sunscreen to see the last sunset of the trip because you can never be too careful

About halfway through the week I went on a long journal-rant about the sun and the sand and the lack of alone time I was getting. I had managed to get a terrible patchy sunburn and my brother couldn’t stop reminding me how red I was. That same night I started freaking out, I also realized that Hot Topic had a Buffy the Vampire Slayer clothing line. So in my panic, with encouragement from my writing buddy, I bought two jackets and a shirt, none of which was cheap. I had a mild freak out the next morning when I realized how much it was, but then I actually got the jackets and they were beautiful. 13 year old me is still crying those fangirl tears. I regret nothing.

The last night of the trip I spent several hours writing. My brother, his wife and their little girl had left that day, so I had the whole upstairs to myself, which is when I realized it was probably haunted. Each bedroom had a remote to control the fan and lights. The light in my room had turned on several times by myself. There was also the toilet paper we found completely unrolled in the bathroom. The first time it was blamed on my niece, but the second time it happened after they had left. When I was alone upstairs. I spent that last night on the couch downstairs watching terrible old movies, trying to ignore the strange sounds of the house.

So the big family vacation was not at all what I thought it would be, but it worked out. I’m pleased with the journaling I did, even though I didn’t get anything for my stories done. I’ve kept up with the journaling, which just made me wonder why I ever stopped. It’s incredibly therapeutic for me.

I hope everyone else is enjoying the slightly less hot days we’ve had this week. Fall is so close I can almost taste the pumpkin spice.

Thanks for reading!

-JBL

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About jblamping

I'm just going to keep writing until I run out of words
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