{personal} sarasota, florida

A Virginia native, but current California transplant, Florida plays a part in my family's history. Both of my parents grew up in Ohio and, sharing a mutual disdain for the suppressing winters of the north, hightailed it to southern Florida as soon as they were married (my father had previously spent some time in Florida prior to their marriage). They only ended up staying a few years before moving north again to be a little closer to family (this time to North Carolina where the winters were a little more forgiving), but during their stay they invested in a time share condo in Sarasota, Florida.

And so they've continued to stay in the same condo during the same week in October each year since the early eighties. The resort is on a quiet stretch of Lido Key off the mainland of Sarasota, Florida. The warm water and calm waves are incomparable to any place I've experienced since (especially on the west coast). A protected state park to the east and the Gulf of Mexico stretching to the southwest, it has provided my family years of fond memories. It's where my brother and I took our first steps. It's where my parents took some of our most memorable family videos of him, myself and our sister. It's where we spent all day outside, alternating between the beach and the pool, the pool and the beach. It's where we slowly waded out to the sandbar until the water was almost over our heads. It's where we watched thunderstorms roll in from miles away. It's where we attempted to play shuffleboard. It's where we watched the play of heat lightning in the huge Floridian clouds. It's where we collected seashells and sand dollars and built sand castles. It's where our bodies became a deep bronze and grew exhausted after long days in the sun. It's where we watched a myriad of beautiful sunsets each and every night.

We went each year for the first eight years of my life until we became too old for my parents to pull us out of school for a week each October. After that we exchanged it for a different week during the summer in different locations mostly along the east coast. Because of it we had a week of family vacation somewhere different every summer. It's easily one of the best decisions they've ever made! We went once more during the summer I was thirteen years old, but we haven't been back as a family of five since. My siblings and I are now grown and living our own lives, doing our own things, making our own plans, but my parents continue to go each year on their own. It's something they look forward to immensely. They literally start counting the days until they return as soon as their stay ends!

I was finally able to return this October for the first time in eighteen years. It was exactly as I remembered it, as if those long years of absence never happened. It was such a pleasure to see my parents and my sister, to show my husband a place that holds so much of me, and to have a truly relaxing vacation with nothing to do but swim, tan, read, eat, sleep... swim, tan, read, eat, sleep.

And so I'm determined to return each year from here on out. It's a "lifetime" deal that my parents invested in, so it will be there as long as we are willing to continue it. It's something that will be there for us and for our children, something that will always bring us together.

1. Sunrise over Siesta Key
2. Palm trees
3. Sunset our first night
4. White sand
5. A dramatic sunset (I took three versions of this - one for myself, one for my parents, and one for my sister)
6. Those clouds!
7. Clouds
8. Palm trees
9. That deep, deep blue...

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