Ali loved her Noni’s seaside house in Florida. The minute she walked off the plane, she could feel the warm sunshine on her pale cold and wind-battered northern skin. It was so inviting, it enveloped every pore in her body and made her smile. Whisking off her coat and putting on her sunglasses, she was in Florida mode again.
When they arrived, she immediately kicked off her shoes and ran around to the beach backyard to immerse her toes in the warm white sand.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath to inhale the ocean. The salty balmy breezes and distant sounds of the seagulls bouncing off the gentle tide always welcomed her home. It was a feast for the senses and to Ali, there was nothing else like it.
“Come on in,” Noni laughed. “You can’t start your vacation without my famous sandwiches.”
Ali walked into the aroma of the crisp turkey and ham Monte-Cristo sandwiches ala Noni. Her secret ingredient was parmesan cheese baked into the bread-machine bread, which gave it a delicious and unexpected flavor.
Noni’s home had been in the family for nearly 70 years. Each generation spent their vacations visiting the beach to escape the cold Minnesota winters. Noni’s parents bought the house when nothing else was around it. Over the years, larger houses and condominiums sprouted up around it like towering weeds, leaving the strange spaceship-like house an odd oasis link to the past.
Inside, the house looked like a typical beach home with soft tan and white colors everywhere. Since Noni moved here full time, she completely renovated the home with its open spaces and wide curved walls to reflect her decorator tastes. Instead of the mismatched hammy-down afterthought it used to be as a vacation place, Noni turned it into a showplace dedicated to the beach. She added a big deck and full glass sliding doors to the back to enjoy the ocean breeze and spectacular multi-million dollar view. She usually kept all the windows and glass doors open to experience the beckoning warm breezes and ocean sounds at all times.
Outside, the strange round spaceship shape perched on the pillars still resembled a UFO on a launchpad waiting to erupt into outerspace. Whenever anyone asks about the unique look, Noni says,
“My father was obsessed with space travel and it was the 1950’s, after all.”
The family laughed and accepted the shaped of the home as city rules did not allow any major outside changes without complete demolition as it was “grandfathered” into the old codes. Noni just barely got the deck put up without a fight.
The village people were lucky. Noni was a one-of-a-kind force. She was fearless, funny, creative and formidable. Her 60’s hippie roots never went gray. She tried anything, fought for everything and explained nothing. You never knew what she was going to do next.
For Ali, it was a home away from home. For five weeks in the summer and two weeks in the winter, she lived with Noni in the spaceship beach house and bummed around swimming, collecting shells and most recently boogieboarding sailing. Last summer she worked for weeks to get up and stay up before she went home. Now, she could zip up and down the surf into the yellow and blue horizon.
Away from the beach days were spent reading, painting on canvasses with Noni, and exploring the area looking for interesting sights or antique sales. Over the years, they had many fun adventures getting lost on nearby islands searching for out of the way tourist spots and the elusive glass dolphin figures that Noni and now Ali collected.
It was fun. It was easy. It was comfortable. And when her friends all talked about the places they were going on vacations, Ali would smile and say “Just going home to the beach.”
For her, coming back to the beach home and grandmother she loved was just common sense.