Sand sneaks between my pinky toes and seems to the stay there all day. Cheap perfume fills the air and I can only make out certain words and phrases that people are saying around me. When you barely speak enough French to ask where a bathroom is, it’s often better to pee in the ocean.
I’m laying on a beach with what I can only assume are the only 5 Hawaiin-based Los Angelenos in the South of France, perhaps in the entire country at this time. The music choices coming over a bluetooth connected stereo are bland, expected choices which make us certainly the loud boisterous Americans into which our stereotype would suggest. Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” comes on and they howl.
I’m quiet today, more quiet than usual and trying to take in the last few moments of what should have been a short adventure. Has it already been four months since I was sitting in a hot taxi wading into LAX traffic on my way to DC? London? Berlin? The cities and the lines and the airports and the backstage of concert halls blur together into a whirlwind of only asking “where is catering?” the moment you arrive anywhere. I’m tired today but I know I’m at the end and I know that I should try and take it all in and live this adventure to it’s absolute fullest, but there is something missing and I feel alone.
I look around and notice that the beach is full of beautiful women. I can’t believe the types, here on summer vacation from work, from school, from their husbands. Everyone expressing some wayward form of escapism. There are young french girls in peach colored bikini bathing suits and dark blue one piece suits which expose the majority of their buttocks and which tie at the neck, which tie at the back, some which go around the shoulders and some which are all but guaranteed to come ripping off when the first salt water wave comes crashing down on them. There are topless women sunbathing in front of their children, some of whose breasts are so immaculately conceived that it seems as though god herself (his self? itself? spaghetti monster?) anointed that these were to be the most perfect breasts on the earth. Grandmothers whose sagging and overly tanned leather sadsacks flop around on the beach in front of grandchildren who will never be relieved of the mental image.
I can’t speak to any of them. The further you get away from Paris, the less and less anyone with the exception of a hotel concierge will grace you with your language even though a vast majority can speak it.
I look up and down the beach full of young and old women, some schoolgirls so young that they make me feel guilty and fear my own sexuality, and I decide that when I get home to California I’ll delete every person from my phone over the age of twenty-five and I’ll start over again. New women, new friends, new lovers and new connections. How could I feel so depressed in this place? How could I feel so alone and desperate for some kind of human connection which I haven’t gotten in so long?
A stranger in a Southern French water and at this point I can’t even remember what city it is. Lille? Marsailles? Nice? Normandy? Was this the beach where countless grandfathers had died some fifty-nine years ago so that I could swim out into the water and quietly let my head poke above just long enough to make eye contact with a girl whom I couldn’t speak to if I tried? Was this the beach where my own grandfather disassembled land mines while soldiers would wait and urinate themselves lest they blew to pieces?
I try to remember the name of this city, this ocean, this beach and I wade out into the ocean and pee down my leg.