My Japanese uncle is in remarkable shape for a man of seventy-five. During our stay here in Kochi, He has spent most days fishing with the kids, picking yuzu and nights drinking; alternating between sake and beer. Tonight, after a few pours, I found him hovering over a stack of photos depicting scenes from his youth. Ojichan (uncle) paused on a particular image and longingly rubbed the top of his head. “I use to have hair,” he muttered to himself. He then went on to explain that when he was young, he used to be a great student, full of potential. “I once had dreams,” he proclaimed to the room. In another stack of black and whites, he discovered a photo of his father posing on a beach with some drinking companions. Ojichan sighed, “The beach… THAT beach… That’s where it all went wrong…” It was the beach his father would entertain on, the same place where Ojichan first discovered his taste for booze and that slowly drowned those youthful dreams.

Late into the evening, as the women cleaned up, Ojichan remained alone with his thoughts and snapshots of bygone days. “…I use to have hair,” he said mournfully to no one in particular. Based on the photos, he’d been losing it for some time which made me wonder, did he just now realize it? I can only guess the beach had something to do with that as well.