Still glowing from the previous day’s success, I set out for a spot to the north. The Mendocino coastline is known more for fickle conditions than for fine. Scoring two days in a row seemed more than I could hope for. But the wind never grew beyond a breeze and the buoy reading suggested something head-high, and, most importantly, when I pulled up, the number of surf vehicles in the lot confirmed I was at least looking in the right place.
I strolled out for a peek, sunshine overhead, toes growing dusty as I walked down the trail.
I was a shy child, terrified of looking awkward in front of others, preferring silence and nonparticipation to public embarrassment. Deciding to surf meant I’d finally gained enough confidence, grown comfortable enough in my own skin to decide the payoff of learning something was well worth the risk of dorking out along the way. But remnants of shyness remain; every time I insert myself into a crowd of strangers, a certain amount of self-encouragement comes into play. Arriving alone at a popular surf spot calls for a level of cool that I don’t naturally possess. Fortunately, as I rounded the turn, I recognized a friend’s son. Relief allowed enthusiasm to take over.
After a brief chat about how the surf was (“fun”), I suited up and paddled out.
First thing I noticed: The knot of surfers at the main peak boasted several guys clearly dialed into the variables of a small takeoff zone.
Second thing I noticed: While the main peak served up overhead lefts on the sets, nothing was wrong with the shoulder high rights up the beach.
Third thing: From the vantage point of the wave, I could see clear down to the ocean floor. Unlike Humboldt, Mendo’s ocean is see-though. I was so surprised I fell off a wave.
But it was okay because I caught another one.
Apparently, miracles do happen.