May had provided a welcome reprieve. Warm weather. Little to no surf for a couple weeks. Anniversary, birthday, weekend inland with the wifey, afternoons poolside, school’s finish line in my sights – days falling like dominos. As soon as I start to think that not “dropping in” is a breeze, that just living life is plenty, SHE shows up.
My son heads toward the gate carrying my bae. (Just learned that word from my daughter. It stands for “before anyone else” and teens use it to refer to their boyfriend, girlfriend, or bestie.) He could have been walking out with any of my other surfboards, as well as our tv and microwave oven, and I wouldn’t have batted an eye. But this one is different. She’s a 5’2″ Lost “bottom feeder” four-fin, an eggish dream of foam and fiberglass that was nearly the only board I rode all of last year, no matter the conditions. We complete each other, finish one another’s sentences. If I’m not surfing, she’s not surfing.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I ask.
“Josh (his friend) needs to ride it.”
“Not that one. Any other one is fine.”
“He’s not gonna mess it up. If he does, he’ll buy you a new one.”
I watch through misty eyes as he walks out and pushes the gate closed, probably using the tail of my board.
After a summery string of weather, the Atlantic is no longer an icebath. It’s suddenly inviting. 3/2 fullsuit and no boots, sometimes less. Tourists are filing in. They’re running into the shorebreak wearing shorts, and not sprinting back out screaming.
I knew this day would come, and now it’s here. The bane of my current existence, a warm Saturday with waves.
My son asks, “How good of a day will it take for you to go surfing?”
Strangely, it’s not a good day that worries me. They never live up to expectations.
A fun day, that’s what I think about. It’s a little south swell, the kind of afternoon when you grab some random form of watercraft – a log, a softy, a fat single fin. Even better, an early summer noreaster. Chunky peaks everywhere and nary a soul around. The only time the surf around here opens a can of whoop-ass. I absolutely love paddling into an overhead wedge and having the floor fall out from under me, then free-falling into an underwater spanking and a surprising hold-down.
I know that sounds masochistic, and maybe it is. (I am putting myself through a year of torture after all.) To me, taking a late drop is like riding an epic roller coaster for the first time, only way better because the cost of admission isn’t a mere credit card swipe but lots of paddling and years of wave knowledge and the desire to take the ride even though there’s a good chance you’ll be thrown out of your seat.
As I type from my sofa, the sun is shining and waves are peeling a block away. Fun waves. Relatively warm waves. My bae is back in the shed. She’s surfed this year, and I have not. She’s a bitch. I don’t like her anymore.