the last time i went surfing

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not the internet thingy but the ocean deal with a surfboard along with youthful bluster, luck, and guile.  those 3 ran out that day.  however, before i get there…

one of my friends, mel, did this thing on the polar bear clubs yesterday.  i commented that i had done something similar but not exactly like the wackos in the polar bear clubs.  i had gone surfing long ago during christmas vacation at huntington beach.  yes, it was cold.  bone chilling nut numbing cold.  of course there was the half wetsuit but the old ones really didn’t work that well other than as a wind breaker.  any the ways as a dim witted teenager it was still cold and the one and only time i have gone into the pacific ocean in late december.

another time in the water that was similar was in april and occurred a few years later.  we were camping at la costa over easter break and it was so cold you could see the steam coming off our bodies.  not even a wetsuit top.  hell, it’s april and almost summer we don’t need no stinking wetsuits.  yeah, right.

i’ve always been a fan of the ocean, the pacific in particular.  i guess it’s just been a part of my life since i was a baby being dragged down to the shore on a regular basis.  thankfully both parents loved the beach. 

there is something atom heart mother about the ocean.  after all, the earth was at one time totally covered by water.  probably saltwater.  there’s the osmosis that occurs when we swim in the ocean.  the salt from our blood mixes with the ocean’s salt and everyone camps happily.  regardless of your views as to how or why we are here we probably somehow or another got our collective starts in the world wide ocean.  yeah, that was a long long time ago.  some of us have always been drawn back to our beginnings.  leaf erickson, christopher columbus, magellan, admirals halsey and nimitz, and every surfer just to mention a few.

the ocean and being in it is almost a religious experience.  on certain days is it a religious experience.  a day when the surf is just right and no wind makes the water like glass or just enough wind blowing from shore to hold the wave up just a bit longer for another few seconds worth of ride.  there’s a oneness with something or another that is a part of us and greater than us on those days.  even when it’s just a regular day there aren’t many things better.  ok, maybe a sunny warm day out on a golf course someplace playing a round barefooted like a young sam snead.  but that’s a major drift here amongst the other drifts and veers.

my last day of surfing.  board surfing to be exact.  because i still body surfed for many years afterwards and that is even more of a religious experience due to the fact it’s just you a swim fin and the ocean wrapped all around you.  veers happen.

it was a warm springtime day and several of us made the early morning trip to the beach.  it has to be early morning in order to catch the water before it and the wind fully wake up.  at any rate, that day we ended up a bit further south than usual for a surfing day trip.  san clemente pier.

i remember the day like it was yesterday.  bright sunshine.  not too crowded.  plus two breaks.  an outside break and one inside.  the outside break would turn into another break several hundred feet from the first break.  ocean folk will know what i’m talking about.  the whitewater of the first break walls up into another wave and breaks again.  capice? 

it was my first time in the water surfing since the late summer early fall of the year before.  a winter of drinking and smoking had taken a toll.  even on my youthful body.  although i didn’t know it until it was almost too late.

i paddled out to the first break with my mates.  a long paddle to be sure and work.  when i reached the waiting area instead of sitting there and resting for a bit i turned and paddled into the first wave that came through.  yeah, youthful bluster, guile, and luck came to a crashing crescendo in a few seconds. 

i’d caught the wave but when i started to make my turn things went sideways and i fell off the surfboard.  now those were the days back when there were no ankle straps to keep your board close by in the event of a wipe-out.  i started swimming to my board but before i got there another wave took it and it got carried all the way to shore.  there i was board less almost out to the end of the pier.

by the time i got back to shore i was pretty much just this side of being dead.  i fell on my back in the sand just like they do in the movies.  too tired to do anything else.  just happy to be alive.     

that was my last time on a surfboard.  i’d almost seen the other side and decided right there that morning it would probably be better to forget about board surfing and just body surf from then on. 

as a sad sorta coda to the whole abysmal morning we found this small container of something or another on the beach and an old abandoned tire.  we combined the two into a sorta funeral pyre.  a funeral pyre that belched deep black smoke into the pristine sky.  a deep black smoke we could still see after we left and were miles away.  yes, i’m one of the culprits who started global warming.  sad but true.

 jmh

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