Terri Pyle, FL
Terri is a native Floridian currently living in Miami Beach. As a college professor of English and Humanities, she has had the opportunity to travel abroad to live and teach in Bali, Turkey, and in Greece. She understands what it feels like to move to another country with another language and the challenges of “fitting in.” For her, there were many more pros in her immersive traveling and teaching experiences because she was able to learn about a new culture and made so many wonderful friends. She is also an open water swimmer, and since 1998 she has competed in many races around the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Aegean Sea. She is a single mother of a 26-year-old son, Chase, who has accompanied her on many adventures around the world. She is also adopted, which has helped her “adopt” other people and perspectives quite easily. Her life has been filled with questions and it has made her a perpetual optimist and student. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Philosophy, where her focus is on oceanic consciousness.
As a Story Terrace writer, Terri interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.
Reflections at the Beach
I grew up in Vero Beach, Florida. We lived just across the street from where this photo was taken for our family portrait series. I was nine years old, just going into fifth grade. I loved my life as it was: our big house, our pets, my school, my swim team–but within a year all of that would be taken away when my parents divorced. I sensed that a part of me knew it was coming, as I would often look at the ocean just like this and wish things could remain as they were.
My dad was my hero and greatest influence. He was successful, funny, and extremely charming. I was lucky to know his playful side. For whatever reason, he was the most relaxed around me. For my mom and my three brothers, he was a bit more serious and demanding. But I think it was because he adopted me after his fourth child and only daughter died in the incubator shortly after birth, due to blood complications. He never talked about her, but I was her namesake. I think he felt maybe I was a bit of a good luck charm for the family–someone to help them forget the pain of loss and heartbreak.
As a young girl I didn’t know, or even think about these things. I just enjoyed all the things my dad offered: a beautiful home on the ocean, a beautiful private school, and a beautiful means to enjoy extravagant Christmases filled with toys and clothes. I remember one Christmas he bought me a purple Panasonic radio, shaped like a tear-drop with a key chain attached. One day we were at the beach, my dad and I, and a neighbor walked up and noticed my radio. He asked me if it was waterproof. I immediately said yes because I wanted him to know my dad buys me super cool things. Um, I knew it was not waterproof and my dad called me out on it, laughing, saying, “It’s not waterproof, silly!” and pinched my nose, as he always did. I mischievously said, “Oh, well I’m glad you told me or else I would have gone swimming with it!” We all laughed together, pretending things were better than they were … because I believed they could be if you wanted them to. I think my dad liked that part about me–believing things were better than they were. It made him feel better about trying so hard to keep a family together that was destined to be apart. I like to remember the good times I had in a good place with a good father who tried very hard to make it all worthwhile. Years later, when he died, my oldest brother, his sons, and my son and I, all walked to this very spot and spread his ashes into the Atlantic. I wonder if at nine years old I knew this would be the case; coming full circle to a special moment in time to be released back into it … I honestly can’t think of a better way to go.
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