I’m in Miami for a few days for work. Hollywood, to be exact, but it’s all the same strip of beach. I don’t travel for work very much, usually I enjoy it a little. This time I was belly-aching before the trip about having to leave Minnesota during my favorite time of the year to go to Florida where the weather is like my least favorite time of the year.
Of course, it was irrelevant because I spent almost all day today inside. Woke in the morning, went through the skyway and had breakfast in a big hall, then spent the day in seminars, suffering PowerPoint. Between sessions I drank coffee and ate snacks and a lunch that was fit for dinner. I went back to my room a few times. All of it without stepping outside. Probably not much different than what I do every day when I commute from our apartment to my big climate-controlled office building. I finally went out for some air mid-afternoon. Hot and humid but not as bad as yesterday.
Nonetheless, it’s still good to set foot in another state, see another bit of the nation’s shores, where the country ultimately comes up against the sea. Tonight, as I was sinking into this hotel bed, resigning myself to HBO and getting some rest, I suddenly roused and decided I should go walk by the ocean.
I changed into shorts, sandals and a t-shirt and went back downstairs. If I could have found a bottle of rum around here I might have put it on the tab and taken it with me but instead I settled for a pack of Marb Lights.
Yesterday, someone who was at this conference at the same hotel last year said that there simply hadn’t been a beach last year. Where the last concrete of the hotel complex ended, there had just been a big drop down to the ocean. The beach had been swept away by some hurricane. You wouldn’t know it now, and it’s very strange. This morning, one of the presenters said that though we all might think sometimes that it is a miracle to successfully implement this portal software which we all are trying to implement, the real miracle was that there was a beach again this year. Everyone chuckled. I wouldn’t say that reinstalling a miles-long beach that the ocean had meant to wash away is a miracle, at least by any biblical definition that I’m aware of.
When I got to the beach it was quiet, just a few people walking in the surf. As I will always do given the choice, I walked north. I didn’t go far. The water was a milky turqouise even in the faint light. Cruise ships lit up like mall parking lots sat on the horizon. I walked as far as it took me to smoke a cigarette then I stood and looked out. I felt that I should feel the water so I went to where the surf came up and squatted and when the water came up far enough I put my hands in it. It was warm and smooth but not like bathwater, it still had a feeling of wild to it. I went a little further and my feet got a little wet and then I took another step forward and went until the occasional wave came up to my ankles.
I convinced myself that the tide must be coming in. Or I was getting closer to the sea. I looked up and behind me, above the beach, the palm trees, above the lights and the resorts, the tall cranes building new hotels, and I saw the moon. I thought how it was pulling at the water, trying to bring it toward itself, and realized that it must be pulling at everything, at all of us, just a little bit.