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Beach Day

Alamitos Bay
Long Beach, Calif.

May 5, 2001

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I wonder if it isn't truly something chemical, something in ocean air.

You can work for months and years in a sober environment, paying down the mortgage, investing in mutual funds, establishing a reliable reputation. Then you can spend one day in the ocean air, barefoot all day long, on the sand, in the water. Maybe rent a kayak for an hour and paddle around the canals of Naples. Walk barefoot down the sidewalk of Belmont Shore in half-soaked clothes, sunburnt and leaving a trail of sand. Buy a 75-cent cup of coffee and sit in a plastic chair on the sidewalk drinking it black out of a styrofoam cup, reading a newspaper someone left behind. And you suddenly realize how easy -- and how wonderful -- it would be to become a bum again.