The summer of 2011 to date, has been the most incredible summer of my life. Not because my family and I traveled to some upscale, fluffed up resort. Instead, a humbling trip to the island of Anna Maria, FL is what truly shaped me. Flashback to a year ago, I was 16 and entitled. I felt like I deserved to have fun, because I was young and carefree. All I cared about was being around my friends, being seen, or being heard, but never truly listening. When my dad revealed that a trip to Florida was in the creation stage, I was initially ecstatic to be going to the beach, but in essence the excitement was for all the wrong reasons. I imagined coming back tanner than all my friends, and being the envy of every girl in my town. I was like any other teenager, drooling at the notion of being thought-of highly amongst my peers.
I begged for days straight that we go to Miami since I’d never been. By the sound of it, the nightlife scene was incredible. I was not old enough to go to “clubs” or anything of that sort but I desired nothing more than to ogle at the older girls, get to dress up at night, and be amongst glamorous people.
It was announced that we would fly into to Jacksonville Florida, and then drive a short 30 minutes to Anna Maria Island. The melodramatic side of me boldly stated, “Jacksonville is for old people”. Traveling there, I was miserable. In retrospect, that behavior seemed entirely foolish no matter where we planned on going, because that was a trip my parents had taken time out of their busy work schedules to take me on. On a website called HomeAway.com my dad had arranged for the three of us; my mom, my dad, and I to stay at a quaint little beachfront house whose owner graciously allowed for us to rent while she was out of town, a cool concept that was affordable but luxurious nevertheless. Upon arrival to the house, the first thing I did was migrate to the back of the house, running down the stone path down to the secluded beach. The beach itself was breathtaking, and I never expected its sight to take me aback as much as it did. The sunshine warmed my back, and I had to lift my hand to cover my face from the beams whose strength blurred my vision. Inhaling the salty air, it became clear why my parents had chosen this location, and I was truly thankful now, something I hadn’t felt the whole summer. Seagulls crying overheard became the only illuminated sound next to the slight breeze that played with my hair. There was just an overwhelming sense of serenity and peace, and during the course of the rest of the vacation, I began to unwind. I never bothered with what I was wearing, never bothered to put on makeup or do my hair, and enjoyed my parent’s company. We attended Saturday yoga on Pine Avenue beach, ate fresh seafood, and I listened to them speak about their lives as teenagers, hiding my laugh when they occasionally said something funny. The trip flew by, and when the time came to leave, it was upsetting. But I realized when you make the most out of your travel experiences, good or bad, your passion for people, places, and culture evolves. Always be open to new things because you never know when they could end up being something better than anything you could’ve expected.
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