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My Unlikely Love Affair with the Sea Began on a Dirt Farm Outside of Lumberton, of all Places

During the pandemic lockdown, several people I know have sheltered in place at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, the Redneck Rivera, but nobody asked me to go.

I guess I’m bad company, or maybe they think I have cooties, but I can understand their desire to head to the water. I like that area myself.

My last duty station was Naval Air Station, Pensacola.  I came home on weekends, and I had a red, 1992 fox-bodied 5.0 Mustang convertible that would almost outrun the Holy Ghost.

I bought it second-hand off a lawyer in Hattiesburg who used it to pull a camper trailer, which struck me as overkill and just a little crazy. I kept thinking of that movie about Desi Arnaz and Lucile Ball on their honeymoon (The Long Trailer) when I first drove it.


Unfortunately, the car matched the profile of every drug dealer vehicle running east on Interstate 10 out of Mexico, so I often got stopped for speeding, particularly around Mobile, on the way home to visit my family in Oak Grove.  


When the state trooper saw my Navy uniform, however, he would just get back in his car; after all, I was headed in the wrong direction, albeit a little fast.


I still love to go to church at the Florabama, the famous night club on the beach, straddling the Florida/Alabama line. Services are held twice on Sunday morning, and they are packed with both locals and tourists.  


The church band is made up of musicians who play in the area night clubs, so the hymns are rocking.

My last time there, a few months ago, the pastor had parachuted onto the beach behind the Florabama building, a tandem jump, and performed a baptism in the surf just before the early church services.


My kind of guy.


There’re lots of theories why people love the ocean.

For example, evolutionists might say that we came from the water and that we have this primal instinct to return to it, just like those baby sea turtles you see on the nature television shows, skittering across the sand moments after hatching.


Some neuroscientists say that humans are intrinsically connected with the sea and that when in harmony with it, we experience profound psychological benefits that can elevate mood, reduce stress and improve faculties such as concentration, clear thinking and memory.


Others say that ocean waves generate negative ions, charged air particles that have been linked to mental energy and emotional well-being.


Or maybe it’s because about 71% of the earth’s surface is water with the oceans holding 97% of that water and, as my doctor likes to tell me, the human body is 60% water; so maybe it’s inevitable that the two will eventually merge.

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