Friday the beaches reopened in Panama City Beach with limited access in the mornings and early evenings. After weeks of feeling like I had lost a long-time friend, my face was back in the gulf breeze and my toes back in the sugary sand. What felt lost was familiar again. The smiles on faces of the beachgoers were brighter than usual and everyone I passed (at a safe distance) traded a knowing glance that communicated we both knew exactly how lucky we were to be there. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and I certainly agree in this case.
The many ways to enjoy the gulf are as diverse as the people that populate its white, sandy shores every day. The benefits can be physical, mental and sometimes even spiritual. As I strolled the shoreline watching people enjoying the sunshine and surf, I could not help but feel recent events have collectively reminded us what is truly important and to be thankful for things we normally take for granted.