A week had passed since the Camel Rock session. A week in which the only time I spent outside involved walking from the house to the car, from the car to work, from work to the car, from the car to the grocery store. A week struggling to complete all my job requirements, family obligations and the additional preparations necessary for hosting a German exchange student over the next few weeks. Not suffering exactly, but what is the point in having established what should be a great life if one is too busy and stressed out to enjoy it? Why live a 10-minute walk to the ocean if I’m not going to carve out even 20 to stride there and back? I can get by on relatively little money, but the trade off is supposed to be time to surf, walk, garden. When the work and the house and the chauffeuring suck that time away, my mood sours quickly; my bent toward altruism is only so many degrees.
Last Monday evening, with our German exchange student settled in, the laundry done and the paper completed for the week, I finally had an hour to take the similarly suffering dog for a good, long walk. I even texted Chelsea to make sure she had a ride home. She did. Except five minutes into the walk, before I’d even passed through the hooker’s willow and coyote brush, she called back to say, no, actually she did need a ride. Not her fault, but I was less than gracious about being forced to turn around and leave the dunes for, once again, the car. Over the bridge, into Old Town, back home. Lucky for me, the lengthening days offered an extension. I gestured Sandy down the trail. She sprinted and I followed with similar enthusiasm. When I reached the high point of the trail, all life’s noise receded, faded into the background as, in front of me, the sun shone through one lone break in the rain-ripe clouds and causing the ocean to glow silvery blue from the Jetty all the way to Patrick’s. A darker band defined the line where sky and water met. Stunned out of my impending depression, I contined on with lighter steps. The wind had clocked from north to west and tapered off completely as I walked. My mind calmed as well. By the time I turned around, the wind picked up again, this time from the south, with all the promise a south wind on the peninsula implies.
I held on to that hopeful feeling Tuesday, that reminder that the ocean isn’t any more of an extracurricular activity than breathing or eating or the pleasures of skin on skin. The ocean is essential nourishment. So I went surfing that morning without excuses. Without trying to finish everything else first. (Read: I still rose at 5 a.m. to work on the Eye’s website, switch the laundry, make breakfast, wash dishes and kiss the kids goodbye before taking myself to the beach.)
The words begin to fail, slip into the vague subjective pronoun, passive verbs and an unfortunate reliance on adverbs, but I suppose that’s an accurate reflection of the way my conscious mind disconnected from other thought as I myself (intensive pronoun) slipped into the rhythm of paddling, catching, gliding, turning, paddling, catching, glinding, turning, paddling, catching, gliding… What to say? It was perfect, easy, fun, and I was lost in it.