Sun, Sand, and Soul

Getting lost on a 12-hour car journey because the driver thought they knew the way better than Google Maps does isn’t exactly the best start to a vacation. But when you’re with the right people, it can be the funniest thing ever (or so I think now)! My trip to Bekal was rather spontaneous. We weren’t planning a vacation, I’d never heard of the place. But it had a beach. What else did I need?

Kerala is a place we’ve explored many, many vacations. You name it, we’ve been there. But Bekal is one of those unheard of, not very popular places, so clean beaches and some peace was a given. I was traveling with a group of family friends – we usually go on vacations together very often. I was excited, because it had been a while since we actually spent some time together, and this was our chance to catch up on things. While getting there was a painful task, it was 100% worth it. As soon as we got out of the van, my hair tripled in its size (thanks again, humidity) and I found myself holding a huge coconut with a straw in it. Trying to sip on the sweet coconut water while simultaneously tying my hair and looking around to take in the place isn’t a good idea. Because I also then found myself with a splash of coconut water on my jeans that made it look like I peed myself. By the time we moved our luggage into the rooms and convinced our parents to let us 5 kids take one cottage for ourselves instead of sharing with our parents, it was sunset. There’s something about watching a sunset on the beach, you know? There’s a burst of colors in the sky that blend so beautifully in ways that you see only in dreams, and it’s like you can actually see the sun sinking into the earth as it goes down below the horizon. And the stars make their way out to replace that glorious brightness with a delicate shimmer. I find sunsets to be quite assuring, in some way – that the day ended, but beautifully, and that there’s another day coming tomorrow. I’ve never met a sunset I didn’t like, to be honest. So we stood there. Quiet, slippers in our hands, and barefoot in the sand, with our own thoughts racing through our minds.

After a heavy dinner (these vacations are killing me when it comes to food. WHY DO THEY MAKE ME EAT SO MUCH), we walked around the resort, barefoot, feeling the soft, dewy grass underneath our feet, and made our way to sit beside the pool. We’d spoken and laughed so much during dinner, we needed some down time to recover and get our energy back. So we sneaked on to the beach in the dark with our flashlights on, even though were weren’t allowed to because of high tide, and dodged our way through the tiny crabs and sharp pieces of broken shells to sit on a platform that was excessively uncomfortable. And we spent hours there singing songs, having pointless conversations, having very deep, meaningful conversations, and listening to each other’s stories, with beer cans in our hands. We sat there, huddled up and close together to brave the breeze that we didn’t think would be cold, but actually froze us. We sat there for hours without a care in the world. And we did this every night for the next 5 nights.

The more nights we spent, the more I got to know each of these people in a way I hadn’t known them before. There was something calming and safe about the darkness and the sound of waves crashing on the sand that just made us want to say things we never thought we did. We called it our ‘beach confessions’. After almost a year, I was comfortable enough to tell them about how I’ve been battling a mental illness for the past year, and still don’t think it’s going okay. I won’t get into what they said, but you get the point. It felt so good to finally be real with people I really care about, and having them respond in the same way only made it even more amazing.

At that point in my life, I was experimenting with poetry, and carried a little book with me wherever I went. And I knew that this vacation was going to churn out a lot. This is probably the only vacation that I remember getting up early every morning (but then again, my memory is terrible). It was shocking. I would wake up fresh and relaxed. And I would use this time to write. I’d walk to the beach – mostly alone, sometimes with my friend who wanted to walk – and just sit on the sand where only my toes would touch the water, and just write. And I was writing some of the best things I’d ever written at that point in time.

You see the log kind of platform in the picture above? On the last day of our vacation, the five of us spent all the time we had sitting on that, drawing in the sand with our toes, quiet, and just taking in everything we could with our eyes and ears. I wish we could have bottled it in a jar and saved it for sometime we really needed it. We drew the letters of our names in the sand, as if it would perpetually exist in the same place and we’d find it exactly in the same place when we came back there. We rolled on the sand down the incline and straight into the water that got up our noses and stung. We stood against the big waves and held hands as if nothing could break us apart, until a wave crashed right on us so strong that we all fell down and one of my friends lost his glasses.

I didn’t care as much about the fact that this beach made me open up to people and feel new things that I’d tried to block out before. I cared more about the fact that I now know these people so, so much better. And I don’t think there’s anything better than that.

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Roar of the waves,

Quiet stillness of the night

Fan whirring above me

Crickets chirping outside.

I’m finally in paradise.

Away from the commotion

Away from the daily distress

The weight on my shoulders, tossed off.

So much, yet such less time

To take it all in

Breathe in the salty sea breeze

Breathtaking views of the ocean.

Toes in the sand

Head in the clouds

I glaze in the hot sun

Let the waves wash away my dismay

Take all the disappointment and misery away from me.

For it’s time to forget about the world

And start clearing my head.

Because now I see there’s so much to live for!

So I lay my head down tonight,

Living for that to be a reality.

Free of thoughts, empty.

Think of things easy rather than complicated,

And for the first time, I have nothing to worry about.

– NH.

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