I grew up at the beach. It’s in my blood, whether I want it there or not. Every once in a while, it quietly reminds me in the smallest of ways. A running shower in the morning is interrupted by a sharp pang in my heart for the sound of the ocean. A NYC sunrise sets off a muted longing to watch it drop into the expanse of the Gulf with my feet rooted in sand. The chirps of morning birds remind me how long it’s been since I heard the cry of a seagull.
Beach life is hushed and warm; bleached and brined. For me, nothing encapsulates that quite like Treasure Island. Driving down the sleepy shores, the buildings are blanched in pastels and sentiment. Souvenir shops and ‘Mom & Pop’ resorts line the sidewalks, alluding to the relaxed shore culture that has pervaded since the 70’s. I’ve lived elsewhere for nearly 10 years, and much of it still looks the same as it did when I was just a kid, though even then, it seemed vintage.
I love the moments this beach has served as a framework for. My mom moved here when she was 17 and was involved in real estate when some of the condos were first being constructed. She sold many of them to their first owners. At one point, she even owned the coffee shop in the Thunderbird Hotel (a Treasure Island staple built in 1957 and one of my favorite signs of all time.) My recollection of times here are all static-filled radio stations blaring classic rock across beach towels, bright shovels and pails full of coquina shells burrowing into wet sand, air thick with saline and the plastic coconut smell of sunscreen, the shriek of laughter running from the lapping of waves on the shore.
Bringing Atlas down to the beach to watch a sunset here last week is now included in one of those favorite moments. As the new begins to settle into the old on the beach of my childhood, with construction moving in on the ocean breeze, I can’t help but think about how dynamic life really is…always building on the hallowed ground of our pasts to make room for the now.
And the now is pretty damn beautiful.