Seamore Nautical Spirits began a very, very long time ago; way before the dock lines were untied or sails raised and trimmed. It began when assembled years of quiet reluctance gave way to raucous longing. She was twenty-six years old looking down the barrel of a “good life.” But a mental image of the ocean, collected from a few trips to beaches in Florida, was like a painting that was half complete. Collecting dust on life’s easel, did she dare complete the painting?
It would require her to select a brush, choose a color, and paint herself in. Without being an accomplished artist and all, could she really be so bold as to believe she could pull it off? Move from Missouri to the ocean? Yes. Yes, she would. Just like she did once the professor went on a royal rant about her still life painting: unimaginative, predictable, safe, boring. She took his message to heart, “Trees don’t have to be green; the sky doesn’t have to be blue. DO NOT paint what you see. Wake up to what your other four senses see… and paint that. “
Hands quivering, she pulled the piece of paper advertising travel nurse assignments, dialed a 1-800 number, and asked about assignments by the ocean (according to NOAA, there are 95,471 official miles of shoreline in the United States). By the end of the conversation, having blindly accepted the only beach town assignment available, she reached for a road atlas that could give her some artistic guidance – to Torrance, California…
…But, it wasn’t California that I drove to. It was Florida. In the midst of tying up loose ends in Missouri, I received a call from the placement agency, wondering if I had any interest in working in Homestead, Florida. Not exactly a beach town, but it was close to the Florida Keys. I’d never been there, but funny thing, my landlord talked incessantly about his annual fishing trip to the Keys. The deciding factor was what a co-worker said to me when I told him I was moving to Torrance. “That place is all wrong for you. You don’t want to go to Torrance.” He was from California.
An ordinary person imparts an extra-ordinary impression. It is how Seamore Nautical Spirits began – artless, unscripted, and spontaneous encounters culminating into hundreds of oddball stories with modest charm. Countless moments become extra-ordinary years…years of living and working in the Florida Keys. Celebrating being 50 years old, I wanted, needed, to run along the Overseas Highway.
Last month, starting at mile marker 50 at 6:30 am and calling it a day at mile marker 0, just before 11 pm, I journeyed the distance with a girl from Cali that I met in Mexi’. We were accompanied by her Harley-man, who at dark escorted us under a bridge and past some “trolls”; Captain Chameleon who waved a Pink Flamingo party sign and pickles in his role as Crew Chief; another running girlfriend that I admire for her snake squeal and campfire song repertoire; a doctor turned cage fighter; and a Gorilla in a bikini, lurking from the mangroves…yes, the mangroves just before Kickin’ Back Food Mart and Mangrove Mama’s down on Sugarloaf Key.
Do you now have a better understanding of my definition of “extra-ordinary impression?” And, why trees don’t have to be painted green or the sky painted blue?
This post is dedicated to all of the ordinary people who helped me to “sea” more of life’s colors (you may or may not know who you are), and to the beloved Florida Keys.
Seamore Nautical Spirits
Memories….oh the memories, trolls and all. What I wouldn’t give for a cheese steak sandwich, beers at Schooner Wharf, or a slurpy on the cool linoleum floor of Dion’s market at mile marker 25, All the colors! All the gigantic iguanas running out of the mangroves. It really was a bit like falling through the looking glass. Such a brilliant adventure. Thank you for turning 50!
You are busted! My friend from Cali that I met in Mexi. Thank you for adding more colors that touched our senses. Here are a few more: the breeze and channel marker lights reflectig across the bridge and shaking up our reasoning, the feel of Adirondack chairs on my back just before I hurled, slinking down onto the pool steps after finishing 50 miles at midnight in Key West, and clinking our glasses with Snake Squealer a couple of days later, at the Thirsty Mermaid in celebration of our 3 way connection…and that she didn’t have to squeal at any snakes this time.