I love Hollywood beach. It is laid back and friendly in the morning and peaceful at night. A while ago, I was able to stay in one of those picturesque inns facing the water and experienced at first hand the early and late hours of this cozy beach. Early in the morning, as the sun rose staining the sky with blazing orange hues, I woke up and grabbed my running shoes to join the crowd that was already gathering up along the boardwalk. The sun was barely touching the horizon and already many early birds were strolling up and down the boardwalk. Joggers, bicyclists, roller bladders were some of the people that made the fabric covering the brick paved terrain.
Balancing on my running shoes, I joined the group of joggers. A good run surrounded by nature allows me to mingle with nature and a good run surrounded by funky looking people allows me to blend in and feel like one of them. Even though I began panting half a mile down the boardwalk, running amongst this crowd was great motivation to go on and complete the two and a half mile stretch. To my delight at the end of the boardwalk, there was a rewarding lush green vegetation area that I entered to complete the vast landscape of the ocean. This area belongs to the Hollywood North Beach Park and has recreational planned areas such as picnic tables and a playground. Yet it also has vegetation that seems to be growing wildly.
After the run, I walked through the alleys behind the boardwalk. There were more of the local people wearing their highly tanned skin walking around the adjacent streets and sitting in the front porches. Walking through the streets behind the boardwalk allowed me to sense
the small village feel. This feeling was enhanced by the scent of freshly made coffee and baked bread and as I roamed around the streets, I had the desire to stay and settled down to live in Hollywood beach.
There is something poetic about beach towns that attract artists and writers. Many of them have made seaside towns their home. For instance, in California actor Clint Eastwood adopted Carmel as his hometown and he even became the mayor from 1986-1988. Also in California, Isabel Allende built a home in the bohemian town of Sausalito and lives there with her husband and extended family. Here in Florida we have the home of Ernest Hemingway in Key West, which now is a museum and home for a family of cats.
The actress Natalie Wood said: “At night, when the sky is full of stars and the sea is still you get the wonderful sensation that you are floating in space” Hollywood beach has that cosmic feeling at night. When the joggers and rollerblades were gone and the sunrays were just little specks over the dark still water, I headed towards the empty beach and found the necessary peace and freedom to evoke some memories. As I dug my toes in the cool sand, I remembered that it was at this beach that my husband Branko open up his heart and told me his story on our first date. Within the darkness of the sky and ocean, I realized that this is what the ocean produces in many of us: a sense of freedom and the willingness to share this freedom with others. Freedom to remember and freedom to talk about what we remember. That floating in space that Natalie Wood talked about, that sense of freedom is achieved just by staring at the ocean.
I also realized that before falling in love with someone or something, I fall in love with their story first. I love Hollywood beach because it shares part of my story and the stories of people that I love. If I were to choose a place to retreat, live and create, it would definitely be this place.