I have a problem.
Truth be told, I have several, but for today, we’ll just talk about the one.
I am afflicted with a neurotic fear of missing something interesting. I need to know what’s around the next corner. No matter how good things are right here and now, I’m pretty sure the best is yet to come.
So I rolled into Foley, Alabama about noon after an all-nighter on a shrimp boat. There was work to do the next day, but the remainder of this one had only three things on the agenda: check into the hotel, shower, and sleep.
Too bad I noticed that sign that pointed to the Gulf Shores beaches just ten miles farther south.
“Those beaches nice?” I asked as I checked in and the woman pushed a brochure across the counter. Mmmmmm…sugary white sand.
“That looks nice,” a voice in my head mused. But that timid voice was beaten back by a chorus of desperate ones that shouted, “SLEEP!”
I made it to the shower before that lone voice tried again. It had found a friend…an ally…and together they gently suggested a compromise.
“You know what’s nice?” they cooed. “Just a little peek…and a walk at the edge of the surf.”
“But I’m tired,” I argued.
By the time I was dry I had lost the battle so I got dressed again. When I think of Alabama, I don’t usually think of beach. So I realized it sort of became my moral obligation to check it out…just for a little while.
I headed straight south on Hwy 59 until the road required me to turn or get wet. I went right and it was nice. Then I went left and it was even better. I found the big pier. I walked out to the end and watched people fishing. I looked down at the band of powdery-white beach stretching off to the horizon.
The birds working the breaking surf caught my attention. Then the sea oats grabbed my eye. For a while I watched the clusters of families in matching pink or white, all trailing a photographer trying to balance the wind and the light and the perfect smile.
“You know what’s nice?” the voices pressed (they were now joined by others). “Dinner on the shore.”
And you know what? Those voices were right.
You know what else is nice? Watching the sunset on the beach. If I just stayed for the sunset, there would still be time to get caught up on sleep before the morning came.
So I did. The sun got lost in a bank of clouds as it neared the horizon, but then the sky shifted toward blue and the pier lights began to glow. My favorite time of the day.
Finally…reluctantly…I got in my car and aimed back toward the hotel. I was almost there when I saw soft lights from a place I had noticed earlier. The Hangout. I rolled down my window and heard live music. The southern heat had withdrawn and a gentle breeze replaced it.
I didn’t need the voices any more. You know what’s really nice? A beer and some live music under the stars to end the day.
A guy can sleep when he gets home.