Billy the Beach Bum
For love of the Ocean
I've lived in Mississippi my whole life, but after my first trip to the beach I fell in love with the sugary white sands and majesty of the oceans vastness. I have ran on the beautiful ocean shores many mornings witnessing dolphins playing in the wakes of the passing boats, sting rays migrating, where all you could see was a layer of black and gray and jellyfish crowding the shallow waters so much that it looked like you could walk across them. It's true that any of these creatures could lead you to an untimely death, but it never swayed me from my love of the ocean and everything that it embodies.
My discovery of the Beach Bum Lifestyle
After my second to last trip to the ocean I came upon the term "beach bum". At first I thought what a wonderful way to spend one's life. Without a care in the world, several people become beach bums, awaking every morning to the oceans surf, going through their daily routine of jogging on the beach, fishing on the pier or nearby unpopulated beaches and cooking what they catch over an open fire in the evenings to sustain their bodies enough energy to get up and do it again the next day.
Many beach bums are actually very wealthy people who have decided to live their lives on the beach every day, traveling to many different beaches throughout the world, but the story I gathered from my friend is a local way of life he adapted.
Billy the Beach Bum
On my very next trip to the coast I sought out to find one of these so called beach bums to see what all entails the life of being a beach bum. Surprisingly it didn't take long to come across a gentleman by the name of William Restovich. It's taken me a while to contact William because he doesn't have a cell phone or any form of communication, but I finally did and received his permission to write this brief bio of his life as a beach bum. William is referred to as Beach Bum Bill by the locals so I will be calling him Bill throughout the rest of this article.
Who is Beach Bum Bill
Bill is the only child of Mary and Alex Restovich. He is of German and Russian descent. When Bill was fourteen years old his father moved back overseas to join Bill's grandfather at his locally owned business in order to help make a living for his family. Bill has not seen his father since then. Before his mother passed away in 1996 Bill received his degree in Business at the University of South Florida. Amazingly, Bill has had several careers as an assistant manager and even co manager of large businesses. His appearance, however, would lead you to think otherwise. Bill always has at least a 5 day beard growth with small patches of gray, shoulder length sandy, brown hair and wears a simple white undershirt along with shorts and old tennis shoes or sandals most of the time. When I asked Bill why he chose not to continue with his career in management his reply was that when he had a job, he never had enough money to buy things anyway and even when he did he couldn't think of anything he wanted. "It felt like I was just working to give my money away to my landlord, electric and water companies and the government. I know I could go back at any time, and if I stop enjoying life, I will."
The Beach Bum Way of Life
"Where do you live Billy," I asked. "Right here," Bill replied. When he said that, so many questions flooded my mind. "Where do you sleep? Where do you take showers and brush your teeth? Where do you buy your food or even prepare it? How do you not fry to death from being outside all the time in the summer?"
"I sleep every day between 4:00 am and 9:30 am. I brush my teeth and take showers at different rest stops or parks or sometimes even bathe in the ocean. Most of the time I fish for my food or sometimes go to the grocery store. I walk to the nearest park and use the grill to cook my food. And yes I get hot sometimes and sunburn even, but I always wear sunscreen on my face and neck. If I get too hot I will go to a store or library or some other place like that. I have read over 200 books this year alone."
It certainly looked like this guy had it all figured out except for one thing. "How on earth do you live without most people's window to the world, television?"
"Well i never really watched much television anyway so it doesn't bother me. I don't even know what people are watching these days. Besides, there is more than enough entertainment around here in the summer time."
I only had a couple more questions for Bill at this point because it seemed like he was a very satisfied individual."What about when it storms? Where do you go?" I asked.
"Rain doesn't bother me at all. I've spent many days in the rain, getting soaked, but I'm always in the ocean so it doesn't really affect me in any way. If it's lighting it just depends on the time of day. Sometimes I will wait it out in a nearby store or restaurant. Sometimes I just sit underneath the boardwalk and enjoy the scenery. If it gets too bad I always have money that I can rent a place to stay for the day or night. I just choose to stay outside as much as I can," Bill replied.
"OK Bill. I just have one more question for you. I'm assuming you saved up money before this endeavor? What happens when that money runs out?"
Bill the answered my question with a question of his own. "How much money do you spend in a year?"
"Oh between $10,000 and $15,000 I suppose," I replied.
"And how much money do you think I have spent over the past two years?," Bill asked again.
Being generous, I answered, "I'd guess around $5,000." I really suspected around $7,500. It didn't seem like anyone could live off of such little money.
Bill then answered, sarcastically, "Close". "Over the past two years I have spent a grand total of around $1,000."
I was amazed. This man had lived every day for the past two years on less than $2 a day. How was this humanly possible?
" All I do is enjoy life on these beaches. I wake up each day and go for a nice jog, talk to the tourist and even give them tips on great places to go for cheap prices. I have even given tours. I have several friends in this town and some insist on taking me out because I am well known around here, but I rarely take them up on the offer. When I do go out with them it is usually enough to satisfy me for a month or so. Fish is free. Water is cheap. Cooking in the park is free. I have no electric bills or water bills or rent. I have more friends in life now that I don't have a job than I ever did when I was working and that is far more valuable than money to me. If you can ever get over the splendors that life has given you with internet and television, being a beach bum is actually quite peaceful. Sometimes I feel like a pioneer, but I doubt many pioneers had this beautiful scenery that I have around me every day."
"It's been a pleasure spending this short time with you Bill. I will see you again soon. Until then, have a great time with your happiness."
"So long Jesse"