Friday, August 17, 2007

Swimming in the Pacific

Today a friend picked me up down at the Circle K combini (convenience store, suckas) and drove us to the shore. We didn't get there in a bitchin' Camaro and we didn't play video games or see Crystal Shit, our favorite Doors cover band.

The beach is near Nakatajima Dunes... actually, it's part of the same long stretch of coast. Behind some wildly deformed pines and a block of slummy-looking highrise apartments of weatherbeaten and stained concrete, along a gravel path and up some sandy steps watched by a cartoon squirrel who informed us that fires were forbidden.

Swimming, too. This isn't the Gulf of Mexico, a briny pond as still as a backyard pool. This is the mighty Pacific, swimming prohibited with pounding waves and a dangerous riptide. And surfers.

This part of Japan is surfer's heaven, even if it is all beach break. Here the waves curl hundreds of yards out into the sea, or rise slowly before suddenly exploding against the shore in a blast of white foam.

But first we had to cross the nastiest looking beach I've ever seen, and I've been to Mexico City Beach in the offseason. Hell, even in season Mexico City Beach can look pretty frizzly with empty cans, bottles, the occasional toilet seat, waterlogged construction supplies and black seaweed strewn all over.

The Nakatajima beach looks dull brown on first glance, but up close is actually a mix of black volcanic particles and white sand. Like Oreos finely ground up by God. It's also a junkheap. The high tide line is marked by human-made detritus of all kinds. Styrofoam coolers (a glimpse of home), spent fireworks, PET bottles and special for today, a battered lounge chair whose sole occupant was yet another styrofoam cooler.

Beyond the surfers, a small fleet of commercial fishing boats trawled back and forth. We put on sunblock and ran for the water. It felt like going a round with Muhammad Ali in his prime at times. The first wave hit me square in the chest and face, a bullish blow that made my brain ache. Later, the Pacific kicked me squarely in the testicles and filled my shorts with clingy gritty particles that sandpapered against my skin. My duck dive technique was more of a one-legged frog dive off a stump with a large-mouth bass chasing me.

And after each hill-like wave, a powerful undertow grabbing your legs and pulling you out for the drowned souls of sailors to embrace you and carry you fathoms below into the cold dark deep.

No comments: