The Pacific Has No Memory

Rohit Khare (
Mon, 13 Oct 1997 18:32:40 -0700

[Hi, I know SPoRK will be low-volume, but this is just a sequel to the
previous whinging from Friday -- this was recorded on Saturday afternoon.
I'm out of the mood now (at least for a while :-) Rohit]


The Pacific is its own shade of blue.

Deeper, more aweinspiringly neutral than the merely forbidding Atlantic.
Oh, the Atlantic has its tales of horrors and loss, but that merely serves
to demonize it as a fearsome opponent. The Pacific just doesn't seem to
care about man.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and pontificate about the mysteries of the
ocean and how it will wash away one's sins -- my only experience of them =
by 747, after all. I just wanted to write about how I feel today, back in
the bosom of the California I left behind.

Wending my way across the spine of the Santa Monica mountains on the
leavings of one of the most wonderfully misguided tyrants of our age, water
baron William Mulholland, I was merely gawking at the views into the canyon
until I saw a flash of that familiar blue between the yawning gaps of
millionaires' homes as I dived 35 degrees down towards the coast highway.
Vertigo perhaps only apt for my return.=20

I had forgotten that I missed the ocean. In my drive across the country,
after all, I stopped well short of the end of the line. And Newport at
night, well, the Pacific is like any other ocean on a moonless night: dark.

Today, though, today is a gloriously perfect day, brilliantly reflecting
off the whitecaps in the little glimpses whipping by the windows as I
careened downed Encinal Canyon Rd. And then, by whim, This well-traveled
stretch of Malibu coast surprised me yet again. I'm sitting here at the
foot of a cliff staring into the surf from El Matador state beach. A
completely hidden little sign and a thoroughly uninspiring parking lot lead
nowhere, until you espy the stairs down oh so many hundred feet.=20

And so, on this brilliant afternoon, I've staked my private cove and pulle=
out the ol' laptop, much to the amusement of passerby. Of which there are
thankfully few there are, after all, only about a dozen parking spaces for
the whole half-mile stretch of piney sand.

There are islands of rocks anchored in the surf, like the sterns of sinking
ships. Some reach thirty feet, one even eroded into a natural arch. The
roar is continuous. Twelve feet away, a very chesty guy is meditating tin
the classic yoga position. I could say the same, but the keyboard kind of
ruins the image :-)

The last time I was at the oceans' edge, it was in Falmouth, on the Cape,
overlookign the graveyard of the North Atlantic shore. Two months ago, with
Wendy and with her, so you can imagine this is decidedly mixed. `

But why? It's completely new and different and there's no connection to=
he past. There are no ill tidings flowing in on the crested waves; the
Pacific always seems to flow outward instead, drawing ill tidings away into
the depths, dissolved into effective infinity.

Instead, I let got of that memory and dust off another traveling-case.
Here, now, yellowing so soon even within the brief bounds of my own
youthful memory: Bonfires at Huntington, the Sunday New York Times and the
pen computer at Venice with Greg and Tom Zavisca; Coronas with Rob Harley
at midnight, the jacuzzi at Shutters on McKinsey's expense account;
toasting smores on a smuggled hibachi with Sonny Arcilla at 1AM; and all
those drive-by beachings at every other odd hour of the night with Adam and
Michelle and Richard and Rajit and Louise.=20

This is the SoCal I dreamt of, not the paved over malls of OC.=20

[and before you judge me entirely an unrepentant hypocrite, understand that
I fully accept OC as my penance for deifying California car culture while
exiled in Boston -- I'm getting what I deserve :-]


Last night, after venting my cliched spleen at y'all, I went to the gym, where I realized to my shock and his that I am within 17 pounds of Adam Rifkin, and then up to Pasadena to mull over Ernie's passage into the afterlife of over-30. It had been raining a little, so the soot had been flushed out of the sky. Under a half-moon, we ascended the birthday ritual of a pint on Mount Wilson. Breyer's Reese's Peanut Butter Fudge, as I recall. The city was like a Gibsonian hallucination of cyberspace -- no, no= , scratch that: not the vague blurry infinity of Gibson, but the sharp hyperreality of Stephenson's vision. Los Angeles was unrecognizably clear: sharp down to every streetlamp. Trust me, I've spent too many nights solo above La Canada-Flintridge, surrounded by the stars above, the marine layer below, and silence of lovers in parked to either side :-)

We compared notes on the stress of moving to a new home, of setting up a new life in a new circle. As system software product marketing manager for Apple, though, I assert he's somewhat closer to the mainstream of Cupertin= o life than I am -- but I'll let him tells his own self-mocking tales of th= e city.

Ernie epigrammatized that `life is irreversible' - that having experienc= ed real life once, there is no going back to work life alone. And still - the trick of negotiating this postponed and prolonged Indian adolescence is to conciously learn from scratch all those *non*serious aspects of life. Dating for fun rather than profit, for instance :-)

Maybe you just have to take our word for it: the Indian conception of community within the extended family really doesn't have an adolesence. There is boy, and then man, and no need for independent rediscovery of adulthood in between. In one generation, we have discovered a developmental gap between student and husband that evolved over a century in the West.

This morning, I went to the Hindu Temple in Malibu. It has grown through my lifetime, from its conception in 1977 to its grand opening in 87, when we lived in Thousand Oaks, to the mandatory pilgrimages with family anytime we were together in LA, to my own, tentative personal visits such as after Jan's suicide. The temple itself has been growing with the LA community, unrecognizable to me after a mere year's absence under the facade of a second expansion.=20

Today is one of the Hindu high holy days, too, the ninth and final night of a cycle of ceremonies culminating in the Festival of Lights next month. I'= m not very religious at all, but temples are familiar homes of my culture. I spent along time in the compound today, hours more than I'd ever thought I'd ever attend for. As a side observation, I can also attest with statistical certaintly that few other young people visit there, none alone, and fewer still female ;->

It's a community center of the old: the families, the grandparents, the squealing kids. It's a monument to that faded certainty of duty and marriage -- the one without room for our unconfortable singleness and independent search for *individual* meaning.

But it's still a beautiful place on a beautiful day, and on my first glimpse of that shade of blue, I know why they say the Pacific has no= memory.

Rohit Saturday, October 11, 1997 5:33 PM =20 PS. El Matador really was quite an adventure. Though it only merits a mere line in the 400+ page Guide to the California Beaches, it was a unique entry in my book. It's too far down for any beach patrollers to hike, so there were unleashed dogs, glass bottles of wine, uncovered bonfires, unlicensed commercial photography of German model prancing in the surf (and little else :-)...

--- Rohit Khare /// Graduate Student /// UC Irvine Computer Science /// Work: (714) 824-3100 /// Home: (714) 823-9705

[Urgent? (617) 960-5131 still works to page me]