Walter Mencken 11 a.m., Aug. 29
- Community Blog
- Homeless Native
The Castaway Effect
The Castaway Effect is when you are isolated
for so long or stranded to the point you become the jungle itself...and you love it. That doesn't mean a totally destitute person like Savali loves his life but I bet he's completely at home wandering the streets since at least 2001. For the ones lucky enough to have a car and maybe a job, you just give in and decide to do your best to enjoy life. If you visit family during warmer months you have a homeless tan and you feel embarrassed that there's not one unburned line on your neck. You try to stay out of the sun but sunscreen and semi-shelter just doesn't cut it. By late fall the sun is more bearable and when you visit family you have a killer native tan that is enviable. You like being in the sun after the cold nights, you give in and buy a used surfboard and let it extinguish your desires to go home if you have one. That's what happened to me this November. My hair turned gold, I surfed without a wetsuit every day, worked at night, was glowing in the sun even throughout foggy conditions. When you watch Tom Hanks get transformed into "native" in THE CASTAWAY after cooking for so long on a tropical island, that's what happens in the San Diego sun as well. When I went home for Thanksgiving I was aching to get back to the ocean; I had put 4 new holes in my belt, I was feeling great! A friend took me see Rob Machado narrate and sing in person for a debut of his new surf movie, THE DRIFTER. He had just returned from Indonesia where he spent a year or more and he was very comfortable in his acquired castaway self. He was beyond Tom Hank's drifting with the whales on a raft. I barely recognized him although he is usually a standout in a crowd. He was completely transformed... like Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai. I also was taking on that appearance and girls would ask me all kinds of questions as we waited in line. It's not the first time this has happened to me. I left home at 16 to work for Dole and Maui pineapple companies. I've known the Castaway Effect every time I returned to the mainland. Well it happened to me again after many years and it felt good. I became the ocean in body and soul. I was back home.