"Or maybe I need a Wavestorm."
I wasn’t at all ready for Spring break.
There I was, huddled in my hoody, board under my arm, slouching my way back from a mediocre surf. To be clear, both my surfing and the waves were mediocre, and not charmingly so. A bump of eddy, a near-fatal weakness, a murder of close-outs. But it was surf and a girl can’t complain too much.
Suddenly, a white Vanagan appeared out of nowhere. It sped by me, down the dead-end road to the beach. Music poured out the open windows. Some sort of amped up surf guitar, what you might get if you sent Dick Dale through an automated computer remix. They came to a sudden halt, as though they hadn’t expected the road to end so quickly. I could hear excited chatter emanating from the van, like squirrels discovering a brand new species of nut.
I stopped to watch what might happen next. Doors flung open, all at once. More excited, and from my vantage point, unintelligible, chatter. It was like they were seeing the beach for the very first time. Omg! The ocean! Waves! A Wavestorm slid out of the van, handled lovingly like the most precious work of art. Which, perhaps it is, all that fresh foam and elastomer skin. The board was brand-new with the shrink wrap still on it. This was going to be the best spring break ever.
I continued my walk back to the car, eyes wide at the thought that somehow it had become spring already. Time had sped up somehow. February mostly passed us by. Every day, flat. Rain, wind, no swells of note. South wind turned to onshore. Wash, rinse, repeat. Lows that spun the wrong way, which is not a thing that I thought was possible until it happened, week after week.
To be clear, I’m not complaining at all about the rain. It felt like a revelation to have the rain come at last. It fills the reservoirs and greens the hills. It builds sandbars and pushes cobbles down the mountains to our favorite point breaks, replenishing and renewing. These are all good things, in my opinion.
There’s also an acute psychological burden to living in drought country, I think. The sun beats down, blanching the soil, baking away every last drop of moisture. Life feels precarious and contingent. Maybe we aren’t supposed to be here at all. I remember a couple summers ago, browsing the book store, I picked up a dystopian novel set in drought-ridden California. Too real, man, too real. With the near-constant fires and baking heat, with the reservoirs steadily draining, it had already begun to feel pretty fucking dystopian.
But all that’s been washed away, at least, temporarily. California’s drama queen weather is never predictable. Maybe it rains again tomorrow, or maybe we’ll all scorch for months under the blazing sun. Dance while you can.
Whatever the weather decides to do next, the spring people are definitely here, pitching their umbrellas in the sand and staking their claim to a summer of fun. A guy on a longboard says hi to me like he’s known me forever. He’s bubbling with the exuberance, intoxicated by the sun, the waves, the whole thing. I can’t say I recognize him. He’s not one of the winter crew that I’ve seen every day — except February — for months. I fake my way through pretending to be less clueless than I actually am. This isn’t the worst way to go through life, I’ve found.
You surf through the winter. You surf in the rain and the wind. You surf a day with offshores so cold the wave’s spray cuts like glass. You stand on the beach to change, the wind whipping and tugging at your towel, your hands frozen to lobster claws, tugging clumsily at zippers and underwear that tourniquets around your legs. You drop your car keys and can’t pick them up. One day you get it good with six guys out. You know them all. You giggle with the secret glee of getting away with something that maybe you shouldn’t.
But now the spring people are here with their beach towels and their Wavestorms and their happy grins. Pull the shrink wrap off another one. I wonder if I sit close enough, if their exuberance will spread to me like some kind of virus. How would that feel? Fun, maybe.
I didn’t sit close enough to the shiny spring people to find out. Shitty waves, they still feel shitty. Maybe I need a Wavestorm. That fresh shrink wrap smell will make it all feel better.