The Grand Strand

Wordscrap from an August, 2007 travel journal . . .

It’s 9 o’clock eastern standard time on The Grand Strand, Litchfield-By-The-Sea, Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. I am sitting on a rented condominium balcony looking out on the beach where I walked the past two hours, from the gray mist of humid pre-dawn to the bright heat of an August morning on the Atlantic ocean. I sit with my feet up and sip black coffee in between bites of Medjool dates and almond biscotti.

It’s easy to tell which people are regulars at the beach and which are visitors. I see an older woman in butter yellow shorts and t-shirt wearing a golf visor. She locomotes up the beach in a slow-motion imitation of a power walk, arms moving at the elbows that would have been a swing had there been any speed to it. Her feet lift slightly as she walks, like something in the sand is prickly to the bottoms of her feet.

This guy, I never do see his face. He lurches side to side ahead of the woman in yellow; a beefy, bowlegged man wearing black fat man shorts. A messy tangle of black hair leads down the back of his neck to sprouts of salt and pepper hair on his shoulders and back.

The man in hot pink Spandex swim trunks and tank top is hard to miss. He is so weird-looking I long for a telephoto lens. I run inside for my birder’s binoculars. He looks like a piece of modern urban sculpture: dark skin with Asian features, facial hair trimmed so intricately it looks like a landscape artist has decorated him. He is wearing black goggles and has some type of high-tech paraphernalia on his head,  possibly headphones. He stands in a slight crouch facing the ocean, elbows pulled in close to his sides and forearms up 90 degrees, palms up, fingers curled into fists. It looks like a martial arts or tai chi pose, frozen.

There is a young boy sprinting down the beach with the unselfconscious grace and perfect running form of a natural athlete.

I see the energy imprint of myself, walking a good pace, but not so fast I can’t stop to bend down and observe as tiny pastel coquinas burrow into the wet sand or to photograph a gaggle of gulls and the mast of a large sailboat on the far horizon. A medium length pony tail sticks through the back of my pink “Life Is Good” ball cap, and light gray Nike running shorts cover the bottom half of my blue and black maillot.

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