"The lineup lacks etiquette, but it also lacks the joy inherent in mid-western lineups."
I’ve been listening to those of you from Southern California complain about this summer for weeks, my resentment growing as I reluctantly throw on my running shoes, wishing I could go swim in the Pacific.
Had a friend tell me the other day that this was the smallest, windiest, and coldest summer he could remember.
Shaking his head, he muttered something about July 4 weekend.
It was difficult to resist engaging in a pissing match of who had to worst.
Even more so knowing that I had a winner.
But, after only a few days on the coast, I’ve become less sure.
I flew into San Diego the other morning and I was in the water a few hours later.
It was beautiful out – sunny and clean. Ankle slappers slowly pushed onto shore.
A lifeguard mounted on a jetski idled into the lineup.
My buddy looked at me.
“I’m not getting out.”
We were still gun shy after being shooed from the water back in March.
“We’re letting everyone know, there’s been sharks sighted in the area.”
We brush it off, but every time I fall I’m quick to get back on my board. On my way back up the beach, I resolve to read BeachGrit less.
It’s a first for us in South San Diego, and I can’t keep myself from chuckling about the Great Lakes motto – no salt, no sharks, no problem.
Maybe I’ve had it wrong all along.
The next morning my friend Adam and I paddle out at another underwhelming beachbreak. The meager wind swell has dropped off even further.
I gasp when the water level reaches the holes in the crotch of my wetsuit. It’s August in San Diego and Adam is wearing a 4/3.
“It was bigger and warmer last time I surfed the Lakes.”
Adam grins. “It’s been brutal man.”
That afternoon, my Dad and I pull into the last spot at the same beachbreak. The parking lot is dotted with Arizona license plates; our California plate is in the minority.
The water is warmer but the windswell the same. The beach is a mess. ‘Zonies have co-opted this stretch of San Diego. Guys bob in the water on yellowed nineties-era “performance” shortboards.
The lineup lacks etiquette, but it also lacks the joy inherent in mid-western lineups.
The session is characterized by rented wetsuits and a conscious disregard for the surfer on the inside.
Passive aggressive glares permeate the lineup.
My Dad mentions something about how the heat drives ‘Zonies west. I contemplate a way to screen out tourists. Seems even more apt in the times of Covid-19.
I’m looking forward to returning to Michigan. I’m missing mid-west polite, especially in the lineup. And there’s something special about not expecting much. Can’t really be disappointed by a freshwater lake.
That river wave in Ohio is calling to me. Fall is supposedly epic on Lake Huron.
Arizona will be 1900 miles away.
And I’m looking forward to throwing on the 6/5. Can’t wait to post a very contrived selfie of my ice beard.
In the legendary words of Erik Elo Logan, “If it’s not on Instagram, did you really surf?”