A wave was coming towards me Tuesday afternoon and as I paddled up the face I saw this woman paddling down the face almost directly above me. We skirted past each other as she sped by and when she reappeared next to me moments later, I apologized if I had gotten in her way and ruined her ride. I hadn't, the wave closed out in front of her. That apology opened up a really nice conversation that lasted for a while. I could tell she was an easy going soul by the way she laughed easily. Those types of interactions are relatively rare out on the water.
We ended up talking whilst waiting for the waves- she is a great surfer, an apparently talented athlete, funny, and beautiful as well as smart based on what she said she does for a living. We shared Higgins Beach (Maine) stories, longboard mishap stories, etc. I was careful not to stare at her although little guy on right shoulder kept telling me to. Guy on left shoulder contained my enthusiasm for her- keeping things simple. I learned at burning man that some experiences in life are more enjoyable if "certain types" of tension are eliminated, allowing for more focus on the primary activity (although sometimes what the ‘primary activity’ is is murky).
I’m going to say I have a lot of respect for women like her who can brave the elements and inherent danger and risks associated with this sport- it can often be scary surfing, and anyone out there in waves has got to be an upper level athlete. She said that we had met a year ago in the same exact spot, a fact that I am astounded to have not remembered, and as I saw her surf I realized that she was probably a better surfer than I, something that increased my attention level towards her (as if her personality and beauty on the board wasn't enough in the warm water and strong afternoon sun).
We chatted a few moments as I was backing out of my parking spot, and as I drove away the social little guy on my shoulder was yelling at me “don’t leave without her name!!!” The respectful "proper" guy on the other shoulder whispered "don't go back, you'll see her later in the week and you can talk to her again then (don't be creepy!)." Wish that I'd listened to the first shoulder-guy because as stupid Florence played out the rest of the week with crummy conditions at our favorite spot, I never saw her again. I will some day, but as luck will probably have it, she'll by then have forgotten me and we will have to start all over again.
The following day I was loading mulch by the yard into a big landscapers truck and my mental screen shot of her smiling at me as I backed away from my parking spot popped into my head and I lost count of how many yards I had put in already- total distraction. I gave the guy an extra yard just to be sure my interrupted memory didn't rip him off and if I ever see this girl again, I'm gonna tell her she owes me $29.00 + tax!
And as I often say, there are life lessons that one can apply from surfing experiences, and this one can be simplified into this tiny little phrase:
"There ain't no tomorrow... there's only TODAY."
We surfed Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday this week. The bar graphs show incredible conditions that brought people from Canada, Maryland, Jersey, Mass, Vermont, NY, you name it. As with every single hurricane (almost), the hype far exceeded the reality of the conditions. Parking was a mess, crowds on waves. I much prefer the gigantic nor'easter no name storms in snowy blizzard conditions when I can surf with three other guys for hours on end with nobody else there. Check out my archives to see how incredible winter surf is!
A friend in NC sent this pic to me last week. I went to college in Raleigh and we used to go meet hurricanes when they came. I did not know how to surf then but it was during those storms when people died that I was first exposed to the power of moving water instead of pool water. Took me another 15 years before I got on top of a surfboard again.
It's hard to love Great White sharks but it's easy to respect them. We know next to nothing about them, but what we do know is fascinating.
That poor kid killed at the Cape went into the water unaware. I was at the cape over 15 years ago and saw an ENORMOUS seal- the kind from San Fran that lie on the docks-600lbs +. I said to myself "Self, never ever come back here ever again. You ain't the top of the food chain, and neither is he. No more Cape Cod for me, and I have not been back since. That poor kid was warned by his aunt not to go for the very same reason, but he replied- "don't worry, Sharks don't like me." All these stories suck for everyone, especially family members, but if there is a moral to the story, it's this: Sometimes in life, you gotta listen to that little smart guy inside your head.
Link to article:
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David Benjamin and I started swimming in Chappaqua, NY., swam for Badger swim team, Mercersburg Academy, NC State University, then Westport YMCA masters. I got bored of the ol' back and forth of competitive swimming and the high cost of skiing. Surfing took over and I never looked back.