Last weekend I was hurting from a three-day assault on a GPU hang, and in need of some rest and wholesome fun. I got the latter, foregoing the former. Though the wisdom of such a decision is questionable, it’s definitely good fodder for reminiscing.
The sky was blue and the air was fresh from the steady rain that had ended the night before. Right before leaving work I read the weather report and immediately after got a sudden mail from my friend, Nakai-san. The dubious plans to hang out on Saturday were given the green light, and my weekend was set.
Feverishly, I hurried out the door and onto the train, shaking in anticipation of that great annual summer occurence– the first sojourn to the beach. I stopped at the dollar food store and bought a motley assortment of sandwich supplies, and then picked up a six pack of beer from the friendly neighborhood liquor store owner next door. Ham, salami, spicy leaf, tabasco, mustard, bread, pickles, beer. Yes, I was ready.
I woke for the first train at 4:30, grateful that I packed my bag the night before. I was barely able to set the lock on my bicycle before scrambling over the tracks. Bleary-eyed, I boarded the early morning local to Hakone, and soon realized that the first train would not be a peaceful car all to myself. It was Saturday, and since I live stumbling distance to one of the brightest entertainment districts in Japan, the train was packed with all sorts of students and salarymen on their way home to bed after a long night. Luckily, I got a rare seat before Shimo-kitazawa, and was able to cat nap all the way to Fujisawa before changing to the Enoshima line.
The brisk sea air was invigorating. All of the doubt and bloodshot regret I had festered in during the chatty ride down was swept away with the gentle salt breeze. During summer in Japan the sun comes up just after half past four, so it more or less looked like mid-morning, if not for the fact that I was the only bare chest on the beach. Surfers in Japan thrive when the casual beachgoer isn’t present, so lessons and group sessions abound in the early morning and evening hours. Cracking open my first Asahi at 7:05, I exchanged smiles with several burly zealots, and received a smattering of barks from an obediently waiting dog as I started into my first sandwich.
Along with the shrinking tide, the layer of funk I’d developed over the hard week ebbed away, and my mood soared listening to the Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffet: a frozen buzz melting in the warming sun. From time to time I took a trip to the surprisingly tepid water, and in an ocean to myself performed handstands, triple somersaults, and other elementary school ocean tricks, announcing proudly my increasingly complicated stunts with bombast for the nonexistent crowd. I didn’t get to read any of my Dalai Lama book; sleeplessness caught up with me around eight thirty and I fell into a nice hour-long nap under my rusted rain umbrella.
As I mentioned earlier, my friend Nakai-san and his wife, Mari, had invited me to their house for a lunch party, hence me taking the first train to the beach to get my kicks in before meeting up with them. Enoshima is far west of Tokyo, about fifty miles. Nakai-san lives in eastern Tokyo, in old town. My route along the ocean to get to their house takes about eighty minutes. So just before eleven, I entered the public restroom (all of the shower houses were closed for renovation), and performed a four-star Sutler sink shower, executing such maneuvers as body lathering, shampooing, conditioning, and shaving, all without the aid of a mirror. A change of clothes and I was all fresh; not a bad job actually, aside from nicking the extruding cartilage of my ear and sending a stream of blood down my face and onto my freshly Brut-anointed oxford (unbeknownst to me and much to my chagrin when Mari asked me if I’d gotten into a fight).
It was a good trip back, though. I got a seat on the Yokosuka line fairly quickly and had a nice, long ride along the bay, percolating with the buzz of quixotic summer intoxication.