"Hit that pipe. Click that Amazon purchase. Post that comment. Bring that soft top into waist-high mush. Endorphin rush all day long – living the dream, baby."
I live on a one-bridge on, one-bridge off barrier island that is open to the tidal ebbs and flows, and for a few months each fall the hurricanes, of the Atlantic.
There are hundreds of these islands that run from North Carolina down into Florida. Many were, and some still are, the sea islands known for being homes of Gullah Geechee peoples, descendants of enslaved Africans brought to port near where I live.
This suggests that at some point these islands used to have soul.
Today, though, it’s a chaos of white people whiting at the beach.
You see, for two months the island was accessible only to locals or workers, enforced by a checkpoint at the bridge.
No ID or papers? You’re not getting on.
It’s a local municipality, so the council and mayor can make these decisions on behalf of the safety of the taxpayers that live here.
Funny thing, though — it seems keeping people locked up for two months and then letting the beach back open because our state governor thinks it’s a good idea to spread the virus some more brings out the masses.
Two months of bliss out here — no footprints on the beach. No trash. No light pollution. No bass booming from tinted windows as wannabe white gangsters drive by.
No Pan-Asian chicken salads.
And the only surfers? Those who live on the island.
And we still need to add the secret ingredient, a result of the island selling its own soul beginning about twenty years ago. All the old hippie and biker shacks that were affordable for food and beverage and college folks and single moms and artists to rent — flipped for million-dollar mansions that house either retirees or are letted out weekly for Airbnb.
Take away this Airbnb traffic and it’s a ghost land.
Like going back 30 years. Abundant wildlife. Quiet.
No footprints on the beach. Paradise on an island.
But open it all back up, and it’s chaos.
Made worse yesterday and today because of a for these parts fun little hit of south swell. Water now up over 70 F, and the outside temp at about 85 F and sunny.
And every aspiring surfer cooped up for the past two months in the region now out in front of my house.
Cigarette butts and beer cans on the beach. Parked tourist cars jammed all up in yards. Plastic beach toys littered everywhere. Dolphins and rays and pelicans scared away.
And in the water? SUPs, boogies, soft tops, longboards, shortboards, even a fucking foil board.
The problem with gentle waist-to-stomach-high lappers in warm water is there’s no scare factor, nor requisite level of surfing skill.
Nathan Fletcher once said anyone on an 8’6” can paddle out at ten-foot Pipe and try to get a wave, because there are so few takers.
Not here. It’s the opposite.
Because it’s possible to walk into the lineup, people do.
And they’re clueless.
It’s a microcosm of the macrocosm of our world right now — no one knows the etiquette, no one wants to follow rules, it’s all about the escape and don’t fucking tread on me in the process.
Hit that pipe. Click that Amazon purchase. Post that comment. Bring that soft top into waist-high mush. Endorphin rush all day long – living the dream, baby.
For about two months, some of that old soul I remember snuck back into what’s left of my community.
Felt like the 1990s all over again, before cell phones and when there were only about 3.5 billion people on this planet, give or take.
It was even possible, if my wife and I had sex anymore, to have snuck onto the empty beach at sunset and had a thirty-second root as the pelicans flew by.
All for naught.
That great wordsmith of letters Mark Twain opined: “It liberates the vandal to travel — you never saw a bigoted, opinionated, stubborn, narrow-minded, self-conceited, almighty mean man in your life but he had stuck in one place since he was born and thought God made the world and dyspepsia and bile for his especial comfort and satisfaction.”
Well, Mr. Twain, you’ve never been out in the lineup with five hundred kooks packed shoulder to shoulder, all who traveled to my home during a pandemic.
After two months of a touch of soul creeping back onto this sea island, I’m all for a bit more bigotry, meanness and narrow-mindedness towards others in the water, especially if they have no idea how to surf.
For my opinionated, self-conceited sanity, please stay home, and keep your nine-foot weekend warrior board, your trash, your shit music, and your COVID germs with you.