July 27th, 2011
1. Just Me
On the day I left for Ventura to surf for the first time,
I had a premonition:
a premonition that my life was about to change.
There was nothing specific,
nothing to latch onto.
Just the sense that I was climbing an onramp
to a new highway,
even though I’d travelled the 101 North from L.A.
a million times in the last 25 years.
10 days later, I still feel it:
a new existence
rising on the Rincon.
It’s still unclear,
but it looms.
It scares me,
but I want it.
Surely, I am changing.
That’s no surprise.
But into what?
I stand at the water’s edge, and I won’t look back.
I want a double espresso with steamed half and half
and my sunglasses.
Oh, and a cigarette, please.
But I’ll have none of them, thanks,
nor anything else to propel me
or lull me
or hide me
on this inaugural swim
with paper sharks on sea-foam pillows.
It’s just me,
and my open, hungry heart.
I could write about the current
or the easy south swell.
I could write about my childhood islands
watching me from 30 miles off shore.
I could write about my useless heartache and how I left it behind,
or about the long, feathering waves I’ve missed
since Friday afternoon.
I could write about the ones that pummeled me
or the ones I let roll by.
I could write about how saltwater makes my hair curl
and how I didn’t expect to love the taste of it on my lips
or the sting of it in my eyes.
I could write about being a lead balloon on top of that board,
and how it mostly felt like wrangling a giant pissed off sea lizard.
I could write about how I landed wrong
or why I jumped off the board when I did.
I could say I was a klutz or I could say I was my own hero,
and both of those things would be true.
I could write about how it changed me, this little weekend,
just like my premonition said it would.
I drove 60 miles north to discover something I’m terrible at.
But thank God I have no talent standing in my way
because that means with enough time in the water and on the board,
I will learn to surf.