Ah, kittens. I have been watching you, playing in twos, every time I get myself out to the beach.
There is something very honest about humanity out here. It’s dialed down, calm. Quiet. Everyone is hushed down by the magnificent tongue of the Ocean; and you better be painfully exhibitionist — uncomfortable, in skin and silence — to be louder than the waves. (But I had seen those types before as well: They make me move my towel, as if switching subway cars to avoid the destructively insane and the painfully lonely.)
I have been running away, out here, to fall asleep on the sand until the magnificent tongues of the Ocean lick my feet with the aftertastes of the opposite shore where, several decades ago, I was born. Out here, I have been running to get a better glimpse of humanity, a more complimentary view of it. Out here, I have been running away from the dusty hills and the heated asphalt of my neighborhood, just so I can sit on my ass and pick the shrapnel out of my last battle wounds.
But it’s fine! It’s fine where I’m living. It’s perfectly fine.
Here, between the mountains on one side and the downtown skyline on the other — and the apocalyptic clouds of smog all around, as pink as cotton-candy-flavored ice — I cannot see the bloody horizon. And that’s fine too: because it keeps me bolted down to my chair, in the midst of work, to which there is no end in sight — to which there is no horizon. But it’s fine! It’s perfectly fine, where I’m living. For now.
But when it chokes, when it moves in and looms above — this lack of knowing as to what it’s all for; when I cannot defeat the despair with mere discipline, I run away. I cannot run far, for there is indeed a limit to this city — an actual edge. And I cannot run away from the work, to which there is no end in sight: no bloody horizon. But just for a day, I can run away and I can watch them kittens play in twos, in the sand; and I can let the giant dog of the Ocean tickle my feet with its magnificent tongue.
Yesterday, he was brown and very manly; athletic but in that stocky wrestler sort of way. Even when he stood above the body of his lovely, he seemed to be hanging close to the ground, hovering. And she: She stretched and purred underneath him — a caramel-colored kitten, in a two-piece bathing suit of mismatching colors. Her head was wrapped with a scarf, and its edges coming undone tangled up in the loose hair at the top of her neck.
The two of them had pitched their burgundy cotton sheet just a few meters south of my ass, and like me, they immediately got quiet. He stretched out on his stomach, she — on her back; and although they spoke little — hushed down by the magnificent tongue of the Ocean — their every gesture was filled with tenderness and certain intimacy that only lovers well-acquainted with each other’s bodies can have. Without looking over for her target, she would throw her perfectly carved leg over him; and he would reach and caress it with the tips of his fingernails. (Sometimes, poetry is written on the inside of a woman’s thigh.)
At one point, in between my nap sessions, I pitched myself up on my elbows and saw that she had climbed on top of him, her stomach perfectly contouring his lower back; and there seemed to be no grander bliss that he could be subjected to. And when she unleashed her wet curls from underneath the head scarf and covered his head, absentmindedly, habitually, he reached up and buried his giant hand in them: He knew her, so well. And oh, how well, he loved her!
This juxtaposition of their physique, the intimate tangling of their bodies filled me with something so serene, I nearly forgot that I had ran away out here, to pick the shrapnel out of my last battle wounds.
A few more meters down from our congregation, there rested an older couple. She belonged to the type of a handsome woman that had managed to defeat her age with sport and boyish haircuts. When she strutted toward the hissing, foaming, teasing waves, her back astonished me with its tautness and form. He was watching her as well. Between the two of them, he seemed to have done all the aging on their behalf. Balding and under the influence of gravity, he sat on their towel and he worshiped her. Every time she granted him an over-the-shoulder glance — he waved at her, boyishly. And although, like me, and like the two brown people south of my ass, the two older lovers were quiet: Oh, how he loved her, he seemed to say, with silence. It spoke volumes: How he loved her!
I would check out again, drifting into dreamless sleep that would leave me thirsty and teary-eyed. And when I jolted myself awake, I heard the hollow heartbeat of a ping-pong ball: Above my head, a couple of young lovers were sending each other running — across the sand and across distances that seemed to be unaffected by mutual fear (for, surely, neither has been hit with shrapnel yet).
Besides her occasional giggles, they would remain completely quiet. Every time, she couldn’t strike back on time, she would run toward the ball, giggling; and he would play with the strings of his swimming trunks — and he would watch her, in silence. There were beginnings of manhood in that gaze: the self-esteem of someone with a beautiful physique and a gentle heart, who would never have to work hard for a girl’s love. And there would be other girls — certainly! — for any life is treasured more once hit with shrapnel. But in that moment, in that particular silence, he seemed to speak volumes of his love — for her.
Oh, how he liked her! And how he loved!