Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thanks, God

Since I've been here I've really been making an attempt to get up earlier. No DP yet, though. Today I at least equalled or perhaps bested my record for getting out early: 9:20 a.m.

You know it's a good day when you catch and ride your very first wave of the day.

Though the tide was going high and the wind was blowing pretty hard in the wrong direction, I had fun and got at least four rides. I'm still far from popping up. It's probably pretty comical to watch what I do, and I know that, but I get up somehow. Not another soul was in the water and it was sunny and warm. Yes, this is what I wanted.

Now it's 11:30 and I'm keeping the deal I made with God: If she would let me live here and surf everyday, I will work on my book everyday. I'm ignoring the unpacked boxes for the next few hours.

P.S. There is no free wireless in my new building like in my old one. Thus, I will have to figure out another way to get service. Until that happens, which may take a while, there will be no posts unless I can get to a public computer.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What I came for

What a turnaround: Now this is what I came to the beach for. A beautiful sunny morning, and thanks to my friend U. who has a car, my destination was a beach twenty minutes away with absolutely no people on it. This stretch looks nothing like the rest of the New York City beaches. It's in a private gated community. If you know where it is you know. The waves were small and gentle and I loved being out alone. Unfortunately U. had to go to work after about eight waves, so I headed back to my home stretch.

It was still lovely out and I got some good rides on these little 2-3 foot waves. Finally! Only a few guys were out, people were friendly and the hanging around on the beach afterwards, thanks to the bizarre random shuffle of surfers that occured this particular time, was hilarious.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Crap session

I have moved! Woke up today in my new home and it was sunny and hot. The waves looked manageable. I went and grabbed breakfast (the stove wasn't on) and by the time I got suited up and in the water the waves seemed to have grown a foot.

There were no lulls and my attempts to get out stalled flat when I saw people riding five foot faces. Yes, it would have been hard but I could've gotten out---then what?

I lost heart. To make matters worse, I was saddled with Barney again. He couldn't get out either but he was happily riding whitewater and doing far better than me. The ultimate humiliation.

Then the day turned rainy and cool.

Amazing how a crap session can ruin your whole day, especially when you missed the good waves by an hour or two, the weather's depressing, and you've got nagging doubts about whether you really gave it your all. I tried to resist the ruination of the day, but to no avail. Amazing, too, how an hour of getting creamed can make you more tired than two hours of having fun.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Happy Blogiversary to me!

September 19, 2005 was my first ever ride on a wave and the date of my first post to this blog.

Well, the blog and the waves have been quite a ride. It's been an amazing year. Looking back, I could never have imagined all that's gone down, both good and bad, or foreseen that I would be moving to the beach. Challenging, exhilarating, humbling, happy, sad, scary, devastating, fun, incredibly frustrating, wonderful...all of these and more describe the past year. Let's just say I've had to call on resources I didn't know I had a year ago.

Here's to another wild ride this year!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Back on the board

Using my new place as home base even though I'm not moved in yet, I was able to get out early (for me) this morning. No question that the beach is at its most beautiful and the waves are better in the morning.

I saw the guy we call "Barney" who's older and a worse surfer than me and we naturally gravitated together because there were few people on the beach. He really is a Barney. But he is one of the few people with whom I could hold a conversation on the basics of surfing and feel superior because he knows even less than me. It ended up being kind of fun and useful.

Slowly, slowly I am getting the hang of my board again! I ended up having to stay out for four hours once more just to get a few decent rides. And once again the waves were beautiful and the good surfers were ripping.

I won't stay out of the water so long again! It is f'ed up that my board took so long and it's not even done. For some reason the surfboard repair guy, F. (who farms his work out to B.) fixed the other girl's board first. She's been happily riding it for a while! And then he only fixed the rail of mine, not the bottom. He should have fixed mine first, don't you think? Was I being punished for doing the right thing and paying for her repair? She got a free repair and her board back quickly and I lost out. Now the guy B. says he no longer has time to do repairs and might finish my board someday maybe but maybe not.

B. saw me on the beach and made me pay for her repair and I had to do it, but really it's not right that he didn't do mine. I went to my house and got the cash and he headed back to the beach. Me thinking: why is he taking that much cash to the beach, I wouldn't. Watching from the boardwalk, I had my answer. I'm pretty sure my cash changed hands in a drug deal on the beach a few minutes later, the drug dealer being someone who has featured prominently in these pages. I shoulda just taken the cash and handed it to him. I could be wrong about this, but I don't think so.

After this I went and had a plain but adequate meal in the local diner which has mysterious hours. The patrons look like they've been glued to their blue vinyl seats for the past 40 years.

Such is my new neighborhood.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Not so fast...

So I move to the beach and become a master surfer and live happily ever after, right?

Well, perhaps. But not quite so fast.

Today I got to use my board (only half fixed, that's another story) for the first time in three weeks, and I really kooked out. It was almost like I forgot everything I ever knew. Mostly, I had the spectacular kind of wipeouts---head over heels somersaults---I haven't had for a long time. I mean, I wiped out so much that I lost a contact lens and had water pouring out of my nose, later, for hours. I was wiping out without even knowing why.

Here's something I noticed today. Bigger outside sets would come by and catch me sitting too far inside. I could see as the wave approached that I was too late to get it. Basically, it was about to break on top of me. When that happens, I usually sit back on my board, point the nose to the sky, and just take the hit. I prefer that to turtle diving under a four foot wave at the last second. Usually the sitting back thing works though I can tell that if a really big bad wave hit you in the back of the neck and back the way waves do when you do this, it would not be good. Today a big wave hit and I got pushed way forward even though I was straddling the board and I nearly lost control of it. I managed to hold on, but barely. I know the sitback thing doesn't keep you from getting pushed back as much as a turtle dive is supposed to but it should keep you somewhat in place instead of taking you nearly to the beach, no?

I struggled for nearly two hours without any rides, took a break to get a new lens, and went back out. I couldn't let the ocean whup my ass like that, not when the waves were only three feet.

Down the beach a bit at the jetty I could see the hardcore crew having a blast getting long rides and trying to knock each other off their boards. I mean, it wasn't the waves.

It took nearly another two hours for me to finally get a ride, i.e., get back to where I was three weeks ago. I really got going and had six seconds of fun, total, for the day.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Moving to the beach!

I've been talking and thinking and dreaming about this for a while, now it's a reality...Grandma is moving to the beach! I've got an apartment, not in the house where I've been staying, but nearby. My new address actually has the word "Beach" in it twice, a lifelong dream come true! It's got a terrace overlooking the sea and a view from the living room windows. Actually I face right onto the break and can see from my window if there are any waves and who's out. I need no shoes and need cross only one street to walk onto the beach any time I want. Turn left and I'm right in the middle of whatever's going on, turn right and I can be alone if I want to. Oh yeah, down the street less than one block is our local surf shop. My new landlord is a surfer and I can take his dog for a run on the beach any time.

I will be able to wake up every morning and surf, if I so choose. And for those February onshore sessions it's not very far to run from freezing water to a nice warm shower and a drink. I am looking forward to getting out early in the mornings. Now, since I have a two minute walk instead of a four hour train ride, I can surf without killing the whole day.

It's going to be like living in a small town but I can have the city whenever I want to (though why I would want to, I don't know.)

I would want to live here even if I couldn't surf, but if this doesn't make me a good surfer, nothing will.

I can't even believe I'm really doing this. I am excited and scared. I am looking at my earthly possessions all packed into a mountain of boxes. Only three more days!

Meanwhile, the weekend is looking good---Weather Channel promises one last blast of summer---and I hope my board will be ready to go.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The end of summer?

I'm...waitin' for my board
Seventy-five dollars in my hand
He's never early, he's always late
The first thing that you learn is that you always have to wait
I'm...waitin' for my board.

That's the tune I'm singing now. It's a slight variation of Lou Reed's classic "Waiting for my man," about a drug deal. The words are just as true of surfboard repairers. That's why no posts for a while.

What a hell of a summer it's been. Not that I am accepting that summer is over; traditionally we have warm weather until October at least, and last year September was the nicest month of the summer. I was out surfing in a bathing suit in the middle of the month. Summer can't be over!

And yet it's turned cool, too cool to sit on the beach even in the sun, cool enough that people are already wearing 3/2s. Usually the ocean temperature peaks in September, but not this year, and once it starts going down it doesn't stop til March.

So I've been thinking about the summer of '06. Certainly it was the longest, hottest summer in my memory. And I think not just me, but a lot of people I know, are looking back at where we were in May and saying to ourselves: Summer didn't turn out like we wanted or expected. How the hell did we get here? Everywhere, it seems, friendships have broken down, lovers have turned into enemies. One friend is in rehab and has changed his whole life. A stranger came to town and wreaked havoc on our community and now it seems has disappeared as suddenly as she came. Numerous people have changed addresses. My former friend S., the first fellow surfer I ever met shortly after I first started trying to surf, has just become a married woman. Married to someone she met surfing, naturally.

It's been a hard summer, a very challenging summer; even when I was having fun it was hard. At times I was very happy, at times as sad as I have ever been, and at all times I pushed my limits in both surfing and in life as I never have before. It's not a summer I would have missed for anything but oh, if I could go back and change some things, how I would.

Let's not forget: I learned to surf, really learned! I have friends who were virtual strangers back in May. (And also, virtual strangers who were friends back then.) I did a lot of things I never thought I could do, I will leave some details to your imagination. I had some of the best sex of my life. And some of the strangest times. I asked myself a dozen times this summer: What the hell am I doing? and then kept doing it. I did not act my age. I hung out with boys half my age. My dog nearly died. I took lots of chances. I cried on the beach. I learned to drink the Rockaway way: at every possible opportunity and way too much but strangely, never getting really drunk. No matter what else was happening, whether my heart was broken or I was hung over,I went surfing every possible chance I got in all conditions. I survived a 100-degree heat wave. I developed a skin thicker than any human being needs to have (a humbling experience which is necessary for hanging out with boys half your age).

I'm glad to have met and gotten to know so many people this summer, especially C.'s friends. Real treasures and good looking men too (very married).

And last but not least, I am glad to have "met" so many of you commenters on this blog. Your advice and support has contributed to making this a great and challenging summer.

The craziness is over, the waves are getting big. I guess it's fall.