Monday, July 13, 2009

One of the things I miss most in Gainesville is quick access to the beach. I grew up in Ft. Myers and Naples, and I'm used to the Gulf being a short bike ride or bus trip away. And I do like the Gulf. The Atlantic is too forceful. Swimming in the Gulf is like being in a lovely large bathtub--warm, gentle, relaxing. Perfect for someone (like me) who's not a strong swimmer.

I'm at the Gulf now, with my husband while he's at a conference. He's working, I'm relaxing (and writing). Our resort is downtown and it's four miles to the beach. There's a shuttle that runs every hour from the hotel, but I wanted to walk it since I needed the exercise. However, when I got out of the hotel property and realized I'd have to cross the causeway over the bay, I almost turned around and walked back. See, I have a bridge phobia. Not the card game, although the one time I played it I did feel scarred for life--my husband was my partner, and that's a different story.

I get nervous driving over bridges. But I've always gritted my teeth, hung on to the steering wheel and plowed ahead (not, thankfully, through the guardrail), because that's what you do. You confront your dragons and move on.

So I stood there at the base of the causeway, vacillating, but finally said, "Don't be silly. You can't careen off the bridge and crash through the guard rail while you're walking! Pull up your big girl panties and cross that bridge!"

And I did. And when I got to the top of the huge arching structure hundreds of feet over the bay, I deliberately paused and looked down, and didn't lose my lunch from Main Street, and I kept walking.

I got to the beach, took a refreshing dunk in the Gulf, and told Carlos the cabana boy to bring me a mojito, stat! Acts of bravery deserve a reward, even if it's just for getting over a silly fear of (OMG WE'RE GOING TO LOSE CONTROL AND CRASH THROUGH THE RAIL AND PLUMMET INTO THE BAY!) bridges.

It also helped refresh me for returning to Castaway Dreams, my WIP. My hero has a phobia, and he's going to have to confront it before the end of the novel. Perfect heroes are boring. I want the guy with flaws, who puts on his big boy pants and does the job. Him, I can relate to. Mr. Perfect--eh, not so much.

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