Monday, June 1, 2009

The Ocean At Santa Monica

Early last Wednesday morning I found myself walking next to the Pacific Ocean along the beach in the city of Santa Monica. I don't know why.
My lovely case manager, Erin, asked what I had been doing there, and the only answer I could come up with at the time was that I had been coming to this place since before she was born. I certainly did not mean to be flippant or condescending, not with Erin, but my answer was true... I had been there many, many times in the past, sometimes partying with friends from high school, other times just to find someplace to reflect.
My lawyer has his office close by. The last time I was in Santa Monica was to see him, several years ago. But I wasn't there that day to see him, and certainly not at the hour I was there. As I walked along the seashore my friend Erin, within a five mile radius from where I was walking, was probably just opening up her sleepy little sunburnt peepers, in preparation for starting her work day.
Sometimes it is good to get away from downtown, even if only for a little while.
The mornings had been overcast for the last several days, clouds covering the sky high overhead. It was cool, in the low 60s, but even here, next to the largest ocean in the world, the air was not humid. I felt very comfortable.
Seagulls intermixed with their cousins, the pigeons, on the soft sands near the pier. If only humans could get along with each other as well, I thought. I watched the waves roll in and out. They're always doing that, constantly being pushed along due to the gravitational dance our planet orchestrates with our close satellite, the moon. I noticed one gull pretending to be a stork, or a flamingo, standing on one leg, as it too watched the waves roll in.
I looked out to the sea. Waves were breaking on a parallel series of rock formations about a hundred yards out. Buoys surrounded them to warn off small boats and surfers. I had spent three years living on the surface of this ocean while in the navy, and during the entire time I served not once did I ever swim, or even accidentally fall into it. The waters around Santa Monica, these days, are so polluted I couldn't imagine anybody entering of their own free will.
I found a couple of good rocks I would take home with me to use as meditation aids, and one nice seashell, then I headed up to the pier.
It took a year and a half to build the pier, which opened in 1909, ten years before my father was born. It stood until 1983, when a pair of storms wrecked one third of its length. The city wanted to tear the rest of it down and build an island with a hotel on it, but the people of Santa Monica thought otherwise, and voted those who advocated "commercial progress," out of office. By 1990 it had been entirely rebuilt. This September it will celebrate its centennial birthday.
I walked onto the pier. Of all the times I've visited this place I've never seen the indoor carousel actually run, although I'm told it does so on a regular basis.
I passed the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant. It was closed, but someone had left the television above the bar on. The entire pier was fairly deserted at this time. A few fisherman fished, a few joggers jogged, and a few dog owners walked their dogs. Seagulls stood at sentry positions along the piers railings, making sure the piers activities were all in line and copesetic. I watched an Oroweat bread truck make an early morning delivery. In Pacific Park, the piers small amusement park, one of the first in Los Angeles, technicians were testing the ferris wheel. Around and around it went, empty. How apt, I thought.
I strolled towards the end of the pier, past the Mexican seafood restaurant, Marisol, where one can dine on fish enchiladas, and on under the Harbor Patrol Station. I stood for awhile at the end of the pier, where below me two older gentlemen were out early, cleaning oysters for bait, hoping to catch some perch.
I vowed never to wind up like that.
Poor fishies, just trying to get along. Looking for a tasty bite to eat, finding something floating about, chomping down that days breakfast, a sudden flash of pain, then being abruptly hoisted out of its world into one of intense suffocation. I've fished in the past, but will never do so again.
What a hypocrite I am, I thought. You eat seafood all of the time. And chicken, and beef. Perhaps I should become a vegetarian, like Paul (except for cheeseburgers) and Beth. But plants don't want to be eaten any more than animals. A quandary.
I looked out over the sea. Directly west of where I was standing, if a camera lets say, could zoom out in a straight line of latitude, I'd first pass the beaches of Malibu, then over the Channel Islands of Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa, out over the Pacific to the Japanese city of Tokyo, west to Ulsan, South Korea, hitting the Asian continent near Qingdao, China, continuing west a tad north of Kabul, Afghanistan, then roughly through Tehran, the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean, through Tunisia to Casablanca, out over the Atlantic, making landfall on the eastern seaboard over North Carolina to Columbia, South Carolina, past Atlanta, on to Socorro, New Mexico, on to the pier in Santa Monica, moving up to a lone man standing at the end of it, finally focusing on the small bald spot on the back of his head.
What a life I've had, I thought.
I looked at my watch. My lovely case manger would be leaving for work soon. I turned around and began my journey home.
We both had work to do that day.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm,.....Cheeseburgers! Great Rick. Sounds like I was there too with you!