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I didn’t write today

A Russian novelist, whose name completely escapes me at just this moment, once published a collection of journal entries, letters, half-written stories, and other fragments. He called it, I didn’t write today, as it included all the things he’d written when he wasn’t really writing. He should have had a blog.

I didn’t write today either. I did laundry, went to the bank, paid some bills, went to the gym. I opened the file containing my current project. Then, I opened the internet. Maybe I shouldn’t have paid the internet bill. Maybe I’d actually write something if they turned it off.

People seem to like to tell John and I their stories. We were at the beach this weekend, and a pair of older men struck up a conversation.

“In 1950, I was in Santa Monica,” the first one said in a still-heavy New Jersey accent. “I’d just gotten out of the service. We used to body surf at Santa Monica.”

The other started to say something.

“No, don’t interrupt. I’m telling my story. New Yorkers!” said the Jersey boy, rolling his eyes. “I came from Jersey, I’d been the Shore, but it was nothing like this,” he said, gesturing toward the water. “I’d never seen anything like California. The guys in Santa Monica, they used to put on long underwear, the tops, you know, so they could stay in the water longer. We didn’t have wet suits yet.”

He’d been in California for over 50 years, and he still held his accent. In 1950, he would have been in the Pacific War, and perhaps also Korea.

“In 1947,” said the New Yorker, “I was in Waikiki.” He was also in the service, probably at Pearl and almost certainly in the Pacific War. “I rented a surf board. In those days, they were big. It must have weighed eighty pounds. The Hawaiian guys, they yelled at me to get out of the way. I was small, a little guy. I surfed all day. The next day, I was sore all over. I could barely move.”

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