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Friday, July 9, 2010

Astral Projection at the Community Pool

A short story, for no particular reason.

It had been a long day. I had made at least 80 calls to clients and probably sent out twice as many letters and brochures to others. It had been a good day though. I had finished amongst the top 5 in sales for the day which was pretty good considering I was one of the new guys.

I picked up some take out mexican food and made it home to find an empty house devoid of wife and kids. I watched some tv show regarding alien abductions and mysterious metallic implants found in some of the self proclaimed abductees and tried to get in a quick cat nap. I am not very good at napping though and while the brief rest was marginally comforting it did little to recharge my batteries.

As I laid down in a half awake half relaxed glaze I heard the rumble of the garage door opener and knew the family was home. The wife came upstairs and kissed me on the forehead and asked me to come downstairs as she and the kids were hungry.

We cracked a 24 ounce Pabst I had in the fridge and poured its contents into 2 small 6 oz glasses as is japanese dinner custom and opened our carnitas plate.

We finished up the meal and I sat in a semi food coma and thought on a night like this a soaking in a hot jacuzzi tub would seem pleasant enough. I slipped one more beer into a dark red coozie which had proudly displayed the white silhouette of a wave on it and a plastic water bottle for good measure into my backpack and set off for the 5 minute walk to the community jacuzzi.

I opened the black metal wrought iron gate, its rough, chipped, acrylic paint serving as a rough juxtaposition against the cold metal and stepped foot into the cool crisp of darkness and longed for the hot steam.

Laying my back pack on the lounge chair, slipping off my shoes, and taking out my beer and ipod I longed for the steam and serenity the jacuzzi offered. Cracking the beer and slipping into the tub I put on some soft music on the mp3 player, closed my eyes and savored it all, taking it all in for scenes like this had been few and far between as of late.

I settled in and let my mind wander where ever it wanted to go. Thinking of everything and nothing all at the same time images and thoughts crossed my mind at lightning speed with visions of disneyland, old jobs, previous employers, dentists of years passed and other random items. I thought about a former co-worker who was continually inventing and reinventing and trying to find the ever elusive pot of gold and his words he spoke to me one time when he mentioned “Scott when I make it one day I am going to take my family and your family to japan. I will pay for it all for both families and simply use your wifes advice as interpreter and tour guide.”

I thought what it would be like with his family and my family spending the day in Hayama Japan at Tomokos parents house and walking with our sons to the convenience market for snacks and drinks just as I did everyday with my son every day when I was in Japan.

Then settling in an inch or two deeper into the hot water and breathing the chlorinated steam remembered the trip we made high into the elevated cliffs of coastal japan to one of the countries many hot springs. It was a picturesque view with the rocky slopes and slapping of the waves hundreds of yards below and the sea breeze proving exhilarating as I stood stark naked on the ledge of the spring in awe of the view and noting this was probably one of the only times a strong sea breeze touched my entire body as there aren't too many opportunities for the view, breeze, naturalist trifecta.

I remembered how one of the pools was very cool spring water, one was very hot, some were indoor with glass partitions separating the elements and even had thoughts about the small wooden stools you sat on while scrubbing yourself clean in the communal showes before entering the spring.

I remembered how not quite knowing if there was a ceremonial or traditional order to use the springs and each individual pool and seeing a redwood sauna as well gave me one more variable to ponder and consider. I remembered
sitting in the sauna and finding it hard to breathe in the hot wooden box and how every breath tasted of wood. I remembered sitting in the box sweating perfusely thinking “just one more minute” and how I sat on the white towel provided by the staff. I remembered the time I was in the changing room getting my clothes back on when an older japanese woman came in to collect used towels and top of the toiletries that were provided at the communal sinks and how this was an element that most americans would never experience.

I remembered the clarity of thought I had as I sat in the hot spring water and the wet white towel covering my forehead and eyes and how the sound of the pacific along the japanese coast had a different sound then that of the west coast US. While the crash of the US waves on rocks in Southern California had a violent, thunder, aggressive smash to it the sound of the waved in Japan had an etheral spiritual hollowishness that said nothing and everything at the same time. Like god himself was speaking to you through the sound of the waves and the quality of the spring water was sucking out every chemical impurity that I had imbibed in the last year pore by pore by pore. I remembered seeing the japanese guy about my age sitting in another tub and wondered what his life was like. Was he a succesful businessman relaxing before a big weekend of socializing or was he enjoying a final moment of bliss before finding a secluded area amungst the rocks before throwing himself over the side and plunging to his death.

But most of all I remembered the distinct sound of the waves.....the sound of the black iron gate slamming shut and voices behind brought me back to where I sat and I realized that for just that split moment in time that I was there basking in the peace and tranquility offered on the japanese coast- but for now I was back in Orange County California....with the smell of chlorine, the sound of automatic sprinklers, and thoughts of utility bills and that of an unknown,uncertain future.