not insomnia at all

I can’t leave off with another mopey post, so here’s this:

Saturday, Nick, Kaylee and I rode bikes through the Bottoms. This was the first time we’ve ever gone for a family bike ride as we’ve never all had bikes at the same time – in fact, “family” bike ride is an exaggeration, as neither Bobby nor Chelsea attended. The weather imitated Southern California warmth, the wind stayed mercifully nonexistent and for 45 minutes, we tooled around in the sunshine admiring both the old farmhouses and Kaylee’s ability to ride for long moments hands-free.

Cliché, but – happiness swelled my heart.

Later, Bobby, Nick and I drove out to the Harbor Entrance to check out the walls of water moving through – I think the swell ran around 14 at 25 that day. Not only did the waves roll through triple-overhead and then some, but each one carried that long-interval weight. Power. Threat. That much energy solidifies the wave, erases any pretense about “it’s just water.” Once or twice, I did a little mind-surf between sets, but no stretch of imagination could place me on the biggest, heaviest waves of the day. Four people out, including B, who said he wasn’t feeling very in shape and was mostly just paddling out to take a look, then was the first to paddle into a wave, a right that stood nearly four times his height. Did it look fun while he was on it? Absolutely. Did it appeal to me for a second? Absolutely not, not with all that water moving around, not with the constant dodging-death nature of the scene.

I watched next to A for a bit. She actually jonesed to be out there, but she’s far more experienced, exponentially more capable and matter-of-fact about the scenario than me. When one of the surfers paddled for a wave, caught it – then tumbled down into the white abyss, she reacted with, “Shucks!”

I cracked up. “‘Shucks?'” I teased. “That’s exactly what I would be thinking. ‘Oh, shucks! I’m about to get smashed! Oh, darn! I’m about to get held under for a really unpleasantly long time! Oh, heck! A whole huge set is going to land on top of me!”

My joking acknowleged the greater truth however – that a certain blasé-ness does divide big wave surfers from those who are apparently way more in touch with our own mortality. They may experience moments of fear, but it doesn’t override their assurance. Clearly, they’re insane.

But hella fun to watch in the water.

Also fun to watch, last week, my neighbor and three friends catching waves out front. The ocean had cleaned up from a bumpy morning with overhead barrels coming in near shore. They were on shortboards, surfing in a way that I will never be able to – quick and agile, twisting and spinning in a heartbeat. Wishing I could surf like that is akin to being at a big city ballet and thinking that, with some practice, I, too, could leap across the same stage. Or like watching Olympic gymnasts and expecting to be able to follow suit. I don’t think enough practice is possible to make that happen. Which is fine. Mere competence with an occasional late drop and enough grace to enhance the wave is all I seek.

But I won’t find it sitting on my ass in front of the computer. Time to make those pancakes and load up the truck.

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2 thoughts on “not insomnia at all”

  1. I was wondering how the Harbor Entrance was on Saturday. Had actually planned to head up that way over the weekend just to watch. But woke up that morning to see the buoys lit and decided to stay here. Surfed a choice spot that was so much fun while a couple of offshore reefs were 15-feet plus. I’m with you on the whole big wave thing too. Got talking to a local charger while watching three guys chasing monsters on an outer reef. He used to surf the place with some frequency and made it all sound like an average walk in the park. Crazy. It was fun to watch, fun to get some insight, but I cannot imagine having any fun a quarter mile offshore in waves of consequence.

  2. Oh, yeah – I love hearing things such as, when describing wiping out on a 20-foot wave and being rag-dolled and held under, “It’s kind of like being in a pillow fight.”

    I would love to have the skills and confidence to surf bigger, heavier waves, but only because I want to be able to surf year round and to do that around here, you have to be able to go big and heavy. But I definitely am lacking that crazy adrenaline gene.

    Your blog photos are gorgeous. I will add to my links list.

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