Random thoughts of a fish out of water

1. I’ve been hearing from more and more people about how they’ve considered taking a leave of absence from surfing. In all my years of riding waves, never once did I imagine quitting (other than for this project). In fact, I’ve long envisioned myself as a decrepit geezer on the last day of my life paddling out at The Jetty, catching a shitty little wave, barely getting to my feet, paddling back out, painfully sitting atop my board…and keeling over. I still do.
old surfer
All the stuff that accompanies surfing – the competition, the industry, the money, and especially all the blabbering – I could easily do without. I’d be happy to ride a few waves, then go about my business.

That being said, if you’re even thinking about quitting surfing, you obviously feel much differently about it than I do. And my advice to you is, do it. You already have.

2. You know how as soon as you get a new car you start to notice the same model all over the roads when before you rarely saw one? I’m feeling that way with non-surfers. I used to look around and think, Man, there are so many damn surfers. Now that I’m not one, I see everybody else. And believe me, everybody else is a lot of people.

The first weekend in March, my brother and I took the rugrats to Grommet Island, a playground right next to The Jetty. It was a beautiful day, and the park and boardwalk were packed. People stood around watching their kids play.

Behind them, perfect little waves peeled off in both directions. Two guys on longboards were having an epic session – drop-knee cutties, Astaire-ish cross-stepping, and noserides from here to eternity. I watched them ride waves, then turned to the parents at the park, and none of them had noticed. All they cared about was their kid going down a slide. Meanwhile, I was crawling out of my freaking skin.

Being a good parent isn’t easy. And considering the countless stories of great people with bad parents, sometimes I wonder if the effort is worthwhile. Maybe my next experiment will be to start drinking heavily and forget my kids’ names.

3. During the second weekend in March, much of the East Coast scored clean, overhead waves, some of the best of the year. Surfers up and down the Eastern Seaboard climbed, dropped, snapped, carved, and even got barrelled. All of my favorite things.
va beach barrel
I got in the water too. I swam back and forth across a pool like a Seaworld show-whale. Down and back, down…and back. My options – freestyle or doggy paddle. My eyes burned from the chlorine. The pool was crowded. I had to share a lane with some girl. I kept pace with her for three or four lengths. Then I rested. She was a machine – never stopped. The bitch lapped me. Several times.

When I got out after half an hour, I sat on the side of the pool to catch my breath. She was still going. She glanced up at me for the slightest instant as she made her turn. I swear she looked like a shark.

In the shower I accidentally saw some old dude’s saggy beanbag. Or was that a mirror? Kidding, but twenty-five years ago that old man was me. More to the point, I’ll be him in twenty-five years. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Brightside, got to find a brightside. The ocean is still below 40 degrees. The pool was 84.

4. My favorite day of the year used to be the Monday after the East Coast Surfing Championships. The beach is empty, fall is in the air, and there are always waves. Now, that day is my first day back at work after summer vacation.

Since getting a job where I get home at 5 p.m., my favorite day has been the first day of Daylight Savings for obvious reasons. I was excited a couple weeks ago when I realized that day was coming.

Excited, then not so much. Another hour of sunlight tacked onto the end of every day is another hour that I cannot surf. Fuck.


For those who were excited to see me gasp and flail like a fish out of water, enjoy! This day’s for you.

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