The last beach I found myself on before my Thanksgiving trip to Florida was on the coast of Morocco, so you could say I found the waters at Rosemary Beach a little underwhelming.
Where were the camels? Where were my cool new friends from the hostel? Why was it crowded with screaming young children throwing sand at one another and completely disregarding their parents' exhausted pleas for some peace and quiet.
It took a few cocktails in the sun before I started to let myself relax after a long semester and remember why I love the waters of the gulf so damn much.
One of the greatest things about Rosemary is how it always seems to draw you back in, and draw me back in it did. I love it for many reasons -- I love how I can't seem to sleep in past 8:30 a.m. because I'm excited to get to the water, I love how I hate every coffee I try at the local coffee shop but can't wait to go there every morning for the atmosphere and I love the pulled pork tacos I eat while I bask in the sun almost daily.
But one of the things I love most about the beach isn't even a part of the location itself -- it's the people I share it with.
I first set foot on the warm and sandy pavement in the center of town when I was just 12 years old. I was still in my Hannah Montana phase, rocking my brightly-colored Abercrombie dresses and some terribly unflattering side bangs. My braces were a stylishly selected pink and orange combination and I hadn't yet broken 100 pounds. It was a summer vacation to remember (due in part to my adamantly insisting that our vacation rental was haunted.)
Once we got a taste of Rosemary, we never stopped going back. We spent time there in the summer, the fall and even the winter, always dragging along girlfriends and family friends, each new visit seeing another version of little old me.
In 2010, I had met the first love of my life just before coming to the beach. I also had an unfortunate case of pleurisy, where the lining of my lungs decided to swell, landing me in the ER the morning of our trip. In 2012, the year I started dating the actual first love of my life (the first one was a false alarm!), we spent our first Thanksgiving at the beach. This year, I found myself sitting by the ocean wondering what little 12-year-old me would think if she knew I would be sitting in the same spot, nine years later, comparing this sun and surf to the sun and surf she had seen on her trip to Africa.
There's something so comforting about having a happy place; a place that may change a little on the surface but never fails to give you the same feeling of excitement and acceptance as it did the very first time. Rosemary Beach fits me like my favorite pair of boyfriend jeans. I wouldn't have it any other way.
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