My cousins were all still in high school and my aunt and uncle ran a bar, “The Ships Inn”. It was a tavern for a rowdy bunch of construction workers and retired military mostly. I would ride my cousin’s bike down to the beach every morning around 10:00; hang out on the beach and people watch and read books.
People watching seemed like a good way to spend time while I tried to decide what my next move would be. An older couple from some European speaking country strolled by picking up sea shells and showing them to each other in awe as if they found some long lost treasure. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but could tell they were quite impressed with their find as they put them in the buckets they carried along with them. I was amused by their amazement of the shells they had found. They wandered up and down the beach for hours gathering shells. As far as sea shell hunting goes the locals say Sanibel and Captiva Islands were the spots to find the better shells. The best time was early in the morning right after the tide washed them up before the tourist got out there combing the sand and finding the good ones. I was hanging out on the beach to waste some time and ponder life not to look for sea shells, so I never thought much about the difference between one shell and another.
I sat on the beach for hours alone staring out at the ocean and listening to the surf come ashore trying to decide if I should join the Marine Corps or not. Lying on my towel, looking up at the sun, closing my eyes as the red and orange sun bursts slowly faded to black, listening to the wind, surf and seagulls in the dark while the sun blanketed my body.