Everybody feels something when they look at it, unless they are hollow. Standing in that sand, looking into that blue-green, liquid forever, I felt relieved. It was forty years ago this summer. I was going on twelve, a boy from the red dirt, what people call the Alabama highlands. My leather work boots, my future, lay under my bed in Calhoun County, three hundred miles away. I didn’t need shoes here. I felt the sand pulled from beneath my toes, felt clean water rush around legs as pale as bone, because a serious man, a working man, did not strut around in short pants. My bathing suit was a pair of cutoff jeans, and when I turned the pockets out I found a handful of sand, white as a wedding dress, pure as salt. For some reason, a reason my grown-up mind cannot see, I laughed out loud.
What I do recall, more than the lovely dunes and raucous seabirds and tiny fish that rode the waves straight into my cupped hands, was a feeling that I stood at the edge of something, not a place to fall off but to float away. The Gulf of Mexico, so vast, was just the beginning of a big world that did not end at the terminus of a dirt road, or a mill gate, or a bald hill stripped clean of pulpwood. From here, why, a fellow could go almost anywhere.
And my momma thought she was just taking me to Pensacola.
People seemed happy here—sun blasted and smelling of squid bait and fried fish and maybe a little drunk, but happy—or at least that was how it appeared in the summer of 1971. Their pockets were picked clean by overpriced seafood joints and souvenir shops, but they would wear that T-shirt into rags when they got home, to brag that they had been to Panama City, or Gulf Shores. For generations of Southerners, this was the most escape they ever got, as if a five-night stay in the Castaway Cottages was a hole cut in a fence. It broke a lot of hearts, of course, because it was just a feeling,... [continues]
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(2010, 10). Oil Spill of the Gulf. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 2010, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Oil-Spill-Of-The-Gulf-455173.html
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