On Tuesday morning at around 11:15, David, Lacey and I began the long drive to Pensacola, Florida from Colorado Springs.
We made it in a little over 24 hours and finally arrived, exhausted, on Wednesday afternoon. I dropped David off at his home then drove to my own, 30 minutes away. As soon as we were in the driveway and I had opened the door Lacey jumped over me to race toward the front door of our home. I laughed and followed her and soon found myself sitting at our dining room counter looking through the windows at the Pensacola Bay beyond. I made coffee and drank it, taking in the feeling of a deep-rooted peace which flowed through me like waves. Lacey greeted the other dogs, Sadie and Fiyero, and sniffed around to inspect any changes in the house.
Maggie, my sister, was home and I walked upstairs to say hi. Although she’d visited in Boulder it was blissful to see her again at home. We talked a bit, then I went back downstairs to begin unpacking the car and settling into my room.
Each day I was home ~ which ended up only being Wednesday to Sunday ~ I found myself at the beach. I brought Lacey to the small stretches of beach on which dogs were allowed and met other beautiful people who were there with their dogs; the first day I found myself talking for hours with a couple from Birmingham because Lacey decided that she would, welcome or no, sleep under their tent’s shade. Later I left Lacey with them (because she wouldn’t leave the cooler area, unused to the heat as she was) and went to talk with a young woman I’d met because her tiny puppy had jumped over to play in Lacey’s water bowl.
Spending hours in the salt breeze and listening to waves, talking with new humans and being wholly comfortable, was wonderful for my soul. Watching Lacey was my joy; she would cautiously approach the ocean, tentatively stepping forward until a wave washed up upon which she’d quickly back up, staring at the ocean accusingly. She discovered the inherently canine wonders of digging in sand the second day we went to the ocean; her nose was quickly covered in white sand, and when her tongue lolled out it was caked in the stuff. Laughing, I poured water over her nose; I think she preferred the sand.
I found that she would let me pick her up and carry her into the ocean, past the waves, to sit and let the current lift us for a while. Then I’d let her go and she’d swim determinedly toward the shore, shaking off rigorously upon getting her footing and energetically bouncing around until I’d throw her a ball. I found that she didn’t really like to fetch balls anything more than three feet away; instead I’d have to throw the ball straight upward and she’d rear up on her hind end, searching the sky for her ball, and joyfully pounce on it when it landed, digging until she could grasp it firmly in her jaw.The last evening I spent in Gulf Breeze I laced up my running shoes and drove to the sidewalk which runs along the shoreline road. I brought Lacey of course. We began our run around 6 o’clock and I had to stop many times to simply stare at the sky, which had filled with sweeping cloud formations tinted blue-lavender and brushing an increasingly red-orange sun. After two miles we cut toward the waves and spent long minutes watching the sky and the waves and the sun drift slowly toward the horizon.