November 30, 2013

For a few weeks more...heat

We’re on the verge of December as I write this and yet I am still thinking about summer. Gord Downie said it best: “we live to survive our paradoxes.” Mine is that I was reared in northern climes but have morphed into a creature that thrives on the great gales of energy unleashed amid hot, muggy summer temperatures. In that spirit, here are a few anecdotes from the Hot Zone, the peak heat of August. The soundtrack for this time is the sonic euphoria induced by listening to Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” or the entire Steve Miller Greatest Hits album. The flavor is watermelon and cucumber salad washed down with judicious amounts of light American beer.

Summer trip to Hiroshima
It’s the family, stupid. After the night ramble down the 800 kilometers of expressway between Yokohama and Hiroshima, I was ready to revel in vacationland. So…Carp/Tigers baseball with a bud; 10th wedding anniversary with my beautiful and indulgent wife; BBQ and pool fun for the kiddies to escape the oppressive heat (at least 38-39 degrees Celsius every day); and, finally, a spell camping at the beach on the Japan Sea coast. From my journal: “Morning at the beach in Hamada: 1) really terrific swimming 2) Elena happy 3) Marina produces a tape-measure-worthy turd.” Awesome!

Doolittle in Doigehama
Somehow the schedules aligned where many old buddies (who have also stayed on in Japan) all managed to further align our vacation schedules for a couple of days off as husbands and fathers. The only ground rules are no wives and no kids. We met at the same camp spot we scorched a few years ago. Basically, we exorcised the resident employment demons through revelry with a tempo like a Pixies song —loud/quiet, quiet/loud— dependent on iPad technology and catnaps, punctuated by yet-more BBQ, Costco muffins, fireworks, and random romps into the ocean to cool off and rehydrate. It was two days of outstanding fun. As our middle-aged batteries wore down, quiet snoring in the afternoon sun was the order of the day.

Before I knew it, I was driving the family vehicle back to Yokohama with my friend James riding shotgun, sans family, which had wisely opted to stay with Naomi’s kin for a few more days. I guzzled coffee in quantities that should have stopped my heart in order to remain conscious as I captained the blue ship homeward. We arrived back in the Kanto region in one piece. Before I knew it, I was on a plane, then in the desert of Southern California at a work event, cranking out the words and frequenting Denny’s “for my health.”
At this point, the pace was relentless and I kicked in the afterburners, fueled by Bud Light and the manic elation prompted by seeing the Dodgers and the Red Sox play. The rest is a blur not unlike the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey: “My God—it’s full of stars.”

I jumped a plane eastward and barged in on my parental units for a visit that, to them, likely seemed more like a 28-hour hostage crisis. Then back to Japan via a flight schedule that was more complicated than dollhouse assembly instructions on Christmas Eve after a few fingers of Jameson’s.

And thus I found myself back at home in Yokohama at about 0600 on the first Sunday in September, with the two Rising Daughters groggily starting their day, my brain still somewhere over the Pacific, and the local temperature climbing quickly toward the high 30s with a hootenanny level of humidity to boot. I would…have it no other way. The Rising Family, fully intact once again, christened September with a dip in the local public pool, a dispensing of gifts, and a feast at Red Lobster to celebrate our XO’s birthday.
The flavor of August was a blend of sweat, watermelon and jet lag. It was the best month of this year, hands-down. Yet, September had its own charms…

No comments: