I had to work Saturday to make up one of the countless snow days we had this winter. School on the weekend feels wrong, like that instant when you realize you’re listening to a Miley Cyrus song on the radio, but for the whole day. When I’m not working, I’ve been doing everything around the house while my wife finishes her final months of nursing school and helps transition her grandmother into a nursing home.
Now it’s Sunday morning. The kids have eaten breakfast. The dogs have been out. The last load of laundry is in the dryer. And my phone lights up with a text.
It’s from Ken. “Any chance you would go to OBX with me today?” He isn’t trying to “Ken” me. He’s offering to drive me to Hatteras and deposit me in front of a well-formed sandbar, where all I have to do is slip into my suit, paddle out, flip around, take a few strokes, hop to my feet, lean ever so slightly, then just stand there, maybe scrunch just a tad and tap the brakes, let a groomed lip pitch over my head and envelop me inside a churning cold-water womb, howl back at Ken who is paddling past my tube-view window after his own in-and-out, hold that position as the wave spits me onto the shoulder, remember that no feeling in life matches the thrill of getting barreled, wonder why I have chosen to spend nine months of every year inside a classroom rather than forging some sort of career that allows me to follow the whims of Mother Nature, paddle back to the peak, acknowledge to Ken that the last few months of not surfing have been a colossally poor decision, repeat for the next few hours until we can no longer feel our feet or form coherent sentences due to our faces being numb from the forty degree water, smile stupidly because that’s the face that is now frozen in place, change into some warm clothes and get back in Ken’s truck, exhale a breath of satiation as the heat blasts from the vents and brings sensation back to my face but doesn’t alter the fixed smile, run into Mama Kwan’s to cap the day’s perfection with an order of fish tacos, and float the rest of the way home atop a fluffy cloud made of waves ridden, food devoured, and camaraderie enjoyed, laughing all the way.
Or, I could stick to my guns and text back, “No thanks buddy. Maybe next year.”
I used to wish for a devil wind to whip the surf to shreds any time I couldn’t go to Hatteras. For the first time in my life, I sincerely want my friends to score good waves, even when I’m not with them.
I text Ken a screenshot from the Surfline cam in Rodanthe a few hours later and ask if he’s there. “Nice,” he writes, “after I decided not to go. I’m a kook.”
Comforting to know I have some company.
Speaking of company, the blog just went over 10,000 views in just over two months, so it seems I have plenty of company. (Half of those views are by my parents, but 5,000 is still a decent amount.) People from 57 countries around the world have dropped in to see what I’m up to. What the hell are you people doing? “Quit surfing” the blogosphere and go surfing! And you three people in Hungary, whoever you are, you just need to find an ocean.