Jap Invasion


A rainy day in paradise. Catalina Island has been invaded by a cruise ship. Dozens of landing craft can be seen ferrying passengers from the mother ship to shore, like ants around a watermelon. The streets are clogged with day visitors, ready to spend money: suburban moms and dads with disaffected teen boys, dressed gangsta-surf style, their hoods up and their shoes untied; little Japanese people moving deftly amongst sale racks. It’s a scene.

I took an early walk out past the docks this morning to clear my head. The tide is in and the water is clear. The rain comes and goes – mostly a drizzle. I stopped outside one of the stores to browse and ended up trying on and buying some cargo pants that were on sale. It’s funny, you try something on, look at yourself in the mirror and make a quick judgment. “That looks odd,” you think to yourself. Then you put your own clothes back on and think, “That looks even worse,” so you end up buying the pants.

Pictures I took five days ago as we arrived on the ferry look fine, but snap-happy, without understanding. I look at them now and know what it was I was looking at. Now there is a context, but that’s not always such a great thing. First impressions are often cleaner. When we first arrived here our room was fresh to our eyes. The windows were open and a light breeze wafted the curtains. We have stopped looking at our room so much, but it deserves close study. Every surface has a story. The ceiling and walls are done up in classic fir-bead wood, three inches wide.

There are probably ten layers of high gloss paint on every surface, and the nicks and scratches of time are highlighted when the light hits them right.
An old light (or gas) fixture has been removed from the ceiling and the circular ridge of old paint remains, now painted over. There are lots of unanswered questions which the paint can’t hide.

The room is like a coral reef, and has grown by accretion, with impossible angles and twists which must have driven some old handyman mad with coving challenges. From the entrance diagonally back to the “kitchen” the room runs downhill probably more than a one foot drop. The first morning I was here I stepped out of bed, bent down to pick up a sock, and stumbled forward toward the closet until I found my balance and turned uphill again. And beware when you come out of the bathroom and open the door, lest it gain speed speed on its downhill arc and slam noisly into the wall. The electrics are another story. At night there are two lights that work in the bathroom, but only one works during the day. The double socket which sits next to the bed only gives juice in one outlet, so I am constantly switching plugs from lamp to laptop.

I love it.

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