A Horribly Epic Day
March 30, 2014. A solid south swell filled in and Newport Beach was all-time. I had nothing to do on a Monday morning, so I paddled out as soon as Grandma came to pick up our toddler. I had a good feeling this day. I knew it was going to be good. As I slowly walked north on the sand, a set rolled through. Solid.
I couldn’t keep my froth a secret, and I giggled aloud to myself. The type of giggle that even the manliest of male surfers are all guilty of. The type of giggle that cannot be contained. However, on this particular morning there was one BIG problem. It seemed as if everyone had called in sick to work.
So, I paddled up against the jetty. I sat patiently, and I waited. I paddled over set after set, with someone repeatedly just a few feet deeper than me. This was not what I had pictured today to be like.
But then, a gem came quietly storming in from out the back. Like a single thread of corduroy, whimsically floating in my direction. I dug my arms into the sea and got myself where I needed to be. I had to stay focused. This was my wave. I spun myself and began to scratch. It wasn’t difficult, and I got to my feet.
There’s a beautiful moment that every surfer feels while looking down the line of the wave that they know is going to be the one that they think about all week. My wave looked clear. It looked clean. It looked perfect.
I drew my line and I noticed a guy on the inside. Right at that perfectly horrible spot. Deer in the headlights. I had to kick out. I had no choice. I paddled to the beach in shame.
It’s okay. I’m unemployed. There’s always tomorrow.
The following day the cams looked good, again. I returned to the upper streets in Newport, and it was seemingly empty. The swell had backed off a bit, but there were still plenty to be had. I paddled out and sat on the jetty. Only one other guy out.
Now, every surfer sizes up every other surfer in the lineup. It’s not just a guy thing, it’s simply what surfers do. You need to know who’s going to make the sets and who is going to bail last second. You need to know who to stay away from and who you can paddle around without a fuss. You merely need to know who you’re up against that day. The one other guy that was out with me, he was a timid one. Excellent.
So, we surfed! We surfed and surfed, and caught more waves than I can even remember. The waves were clean and consistent, and every now and then, an absolute perfect one would roll through that was reminiscent of the day before. I continued to paddle onto the inside of the other guy, sitting as close to the jetty as I could and picking off the best waves that were coming through. The guy paddled over to me at one point and said, “Damn. You’re really gettin’ all the good ones today.”
It was right then that I realized I may be getting greedy. There were certainly plenty of good waves to satisfy the both of us, but this guy was right. I was hoarding all the best ones. And then I did again, once more (It was very good).
I paddled back to my spot. My spot of seniority. After a few minutes, another perfect wave arose from the horizon. Naturally, I dug my arms into the ocean and positioned myself. I glanced at the guy. He was slightly inside, and to my left, just paddling casually as if he already knew what was about to happen. He had a look on his face like he was stoked for me. It was a look genuine happiness and appreciation for the beautiful things that Mother Nature had given us that day. It was right then that I stopped my paddle and sat up my board. I gave him the nod.
“It’s all yours if want it,” I said. The guy’s eyes lit up. He spun and paddled. No worries getting into it, he cruised his way to the sand. One of the best waves of the day.
As he paddled back out, I could see a different look on his face. A look I hadn’t seen all session. A look that every surfer gets after they kick out of the wave that justified getting out of bed. A look of gregarious confidence. We continued to surf harmoniously for the rest of the morning. Taking turns.
Now, I should have prefaced with the fact that this entire story is about what happened later that morning, when I was telling my lovely wife about the session. When I got to the part about giving up the wave of the day in an attempt to lessen my greedy nature in the water, she looked up at me and dropped a single tear. She was crying! “That was beautiful,” she said to me.
For me and my family, that was an emotional moment. A moment I will surely never forget and a lesson I will certainly teach to our son. And, I’m almost certain that our unborn baby #2 – all warm and cozy in my wife’s belly – felt it too.