The air had just a tinge of pre-dawn chill and the sun peeked over the water as I started my early morning run. The rays were touching the tops of buildings and were moments from hitting us as I jogged past the woman sitting hunched over and alone on the seawall bench.
She must have heard my footsteps. She suddenly turned to me with a big smile and said, “Wow!”, then looked back over the tranquil water.
As I continued to run, my lungs expanded and the blood flowed more easily. My attention turned away from little aches and pains as I settled into a pace. As I drew inward I reflected on the woman. Sometimes someone who is not from here has to remind us how beautiful it can be and how lucky we are to live so close to the ocean. I thought about how she must be feeling while the early rays touched her face and she felt and smelled the salty breeze.
For Galveston locals the early morning beach time often involves an early commute to work or morning exercise. Our minds are cluttered as we run through what the day will bring or dwell on our latest issues. But to travel and remove yourself from your routine enables you to live a little more in the moment. To focus on things more clearly. Beaches are a vehicle to get closer to the natural environment if we’re open.
Living in one of the places that people go to get away from their life and renew themselves can be a challenge. We’re just getting used to driving down the seawall without someone pulling some crazy, no-signal-making lane change or abrupt speed alteration. Living in a west end beach house is getting quieter without the summer parties in all the neighborhood rental houses and it’s a welcome change to walk out the door without having to clean someone’s beer cans off my yard. But all the little annoyances are a small price to pay for the time of year we just entered. And tourists are the reason that many of the nice things we enjoy in Galveston exist, so it’s not a bad trade off.
Beautiful empty beaches and a perfect air and water temperature don’t last long in the fall and spring but they are sure wonderful if we can take the time to get the same joy from them as the tourists do when they visit. These are the times that make it worth living here.
On my way back I saw the woman on the bench staring out to the ocean, a smile on her lips. She didn’t acknowledge me this time and appeared to be deep in thought. Looking closely I noticed her head was wrapped in a bandana and she had deep, dark bags under her eyes. I realized how much she must have been going through and felt grateful she found some solace on the beach this beautiful morning.