Gazing | My Family Travels
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 I have never been to Europe, Africa, Asia or any other country besides the United States. These foreign places would spark instant attention for a travel story. The vacation destinations in the United States are seemingly unoriginal and already heavily populated. Who wants to hear about a repetitive tourist attraction like Panama City or NYC when there’s Madrid, Rome, Hong Kong, and Paris? As great as these cities may be, there is something missing in an urban metropolis, even if it’s in a city that seems to have everything imaginable. I found what cities lacked on a peaceful April night, on the lovely peninsula of Florida, right here in the United States.   

Boca Grande, Florida. Golf carts outnumber cars as much as palm trees outnumber people. It’s a quiet island, with streetlights every one hundred yards or so. The short houses are a clean off-white color with small yards consisting of pastel rocks that fit snuggly in your palm. When the blistering sun explodes colors as it sets on the clear blue ocean, something else comes up. While visiting Boca Grande, a few friends and I went out to find it. The moon is hard to find when there are skyscrapers ripping it from sight. It’s even harder to see stars through undying city lights. But we weren’t in an urban city, so taking up the chance, we went out to the beach around midnight. The four of us stood wordlessly staring at the sky. For every grain of sand on the beach, there must have been a hundred stars, visibly twinkling and blinking at us from light-years away. A dim lighthouse flashed wearily behind us every ten seconds or so, and using this limited light, we made our way to sit on the dunes. Nobody had uttered a word yet until my friend turned to me, the moon reflected off her eyes and asked, “It’s a tease, isn’t it?” I didn’t know where her train of thought stemmed from, but I nodded my head. Whatever our eyes were seeing, in her mind and mine, it was a beautiful tease.

The ocean crashed gently on the shore and sucked itself back in for a while. As my eyes gradually adjusted to the dark, I observed more and more stars, as if they were popping out from behind each other, like children playing hide and go seek. I remember smiling lightly to myself, wondering if they could be bright enough to create their own dawn without the sun in a few hours.

The beach was completely bare of other life, the sea was passive, the sky was clear and I had my best friends by my side. The stars were breathing, I could’ve sworn. They weren’t just burning rocks in the sky; they had a soul and a heart and brilliance running through their veins.

After an hour or so, we decided to head back to our house. I stood up, brushed the sand off myself and took one last look at the sky. No camera could capture that moment. That instant, that second, filled me with so much feeling I felt like I had to cry or I might burst of an unknown emotion. I sent a kiss up to the heavens, feeling slightly stupid as my friends sleepily laughed at me. As we drove back to the house in our wobbly golf cart I felt a peace that no city, no canyon, no forest or desert or mountain could have given me. I was at the sky and exploding with a love for everything I could see. 

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