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You'll find a place that feels like home to you too

When the ocean is, quite literally, a seashell’s toss from your back yard, you feel incredibly lucky.
The chances I’ll ever see the Pacific or the Indian or, puh-lease, the Arctic are remote indeed, which is why the Atlantic will always be my ocean of choice.
When I was 15 years old, Mom and Dad decided it was high time that a vacation trip ought to include a few days on the ocean, and so in the summer of 1970, my sister, brother and I got our first glimpse of the endless sea.
I remember thinking, “I’d better treasure this view since I may never see it again.”
Because where I was born and raised in a little Ohio city whose main waterway was commonly called “Town Crick,” it was not often that one made a return trip. Only fortunate people got called back. And that was OK because I’d seen Virginia Beach once, and that was good enough for me.
I was never one to expect the finer things in life to last. Because as an indoctrinated Catholic boy, I understood that the human condition was constructed of — and constricted by — three basic truths: As a born sinner, I was never going to be fully absolved. As a mortal, I was going to die and face final judgment. And that it was very, very unlikely that I’d ever get so much as a quick peak at heaven.
So the Atlantic Ocean became my paradise on earth. As I prepared for the fall and my sophomore year in high school — they called it “tenth grade” back then — I savored the sight of the girls in their bikinis, thinking, “Hmm, I may not ever get to heaven, but this is close enough.”
A few years later I was spending spring break at Fort Lauderdale with a group of college friends, and I made eye contact with a comely brown-haired girl, sunning herself in a tiny two-piece bathing suit. It was lime green.
So thinking to impress her, I got up from my towel, dashed toward the ocean and dived head-first into the surf. The water was about 2-feet deep. My skull smacked the sandy bottom, and my vertebrae recoiled, screaming obscenities at me. Stars filled my vision as I surfaced, and I could hear hoots and hollers from my friends as they reveled in my abasement.
I don’t think the girl in the lime green bikini even noticed my erstwhile showing-off disaster, but that again was a valuable lesson. To wit, the ocean is always in charge, and it’s always a good idea to challenge it with extreme caution.
In the fall of 1987 I met the woman who would become my wife, and early on in our blossoming relationship, it became clear we shared a love of the Atlantic. So we did what came naturally. We traveled its American length with stops in Bar Harbor, Maine, all the way to Key West with jaunts to Ocean City, Narragansett, Virginia Beach, Nantucket, Siesta Key and St. Simon’s Island sprinkled in between. Not to mention North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
If you’re not conversant on the OBX, here’s a quick tutorial. That parenthesis of barrier islands off the coast is perhaps the most beautiful and intoxicating stretch of sand in the world. From Duck and Kitty Hawk through Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke Island, it’s become our destination of choice.
Which is very convenient. Because following our uprooting from home and rejuvenation down here, we are close enough to the Atlantic to call it, without hesitation, our favorite place to be.
In fact as faithful readers might recall, it was on a beach not far from where Ohio’s own Wright Brothers first flew in 1903 that we were married a decade ago.
To call it the best day of my life would be an understatement along the lines of saying that the Beatles were a pretty good little band. Or that Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t a bad film director. Or that the Atlantic Ocean is OK for a backyard view.
I’d share the name of the cottage we rented for our anniversary week, but I’m going to keep it under wraps,
For one thing we plan to keep going back year after year, fall after fall, anniversary after anniversary until we’re either too jaded or too old to appreciate its low-key splendor. For another the Outer Banks is just vast enough to retain a small-town feel, and there is an abundance of oceanfront houses just waiting for you to explore and perhaps love.
We’ve been lucky in that regard, but that’s my point. You’ll find a place that feels like home to you too.
As I think back on our week on the beach, it’s not the World Series games on the TV or the alfresco breakfasts I whipped up or the sunrises we shared that’ll keep me running until we get back again. It’s the hot tub.
Almost sinful in its temptation and location, it became my Blue Hour refuge, a warm and sudsy Xanadu whose point of view became my own as late afternoon sluiced gently into early evening.
It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that the eight or so hours I spent floating in its decadence over that beach week probably punched my ticket to hell. After all, such temporal pleasure must come with a steep and eternal price tag. And as a recovering Catholic, I can faithfully attest that it was worth every second of the debt I incurred.
This world is already filled with enough filth and nastiness, the awful and the terrible to create in most a sense of dread: Hunter Thompson’s immortal Fear and Loathing. The deck is stacked against us. Unless of course that deck overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
If you haven’t been, go. If you have, go back. That is all.
Mike Dewey can be reached at CarolinamikeD@aol.com">CarolinamikeD@aol.com or 6211 Cardinal Drive, New Bern, NC 28560. He invites you to visit his Facebook page for more fun.

Published: November 13, 2017
New Article ID: 2017171109908