Monday, September 21, 2009

Vignettes from the last small wave days of summer

Today's the first day of autumn, or last day of summer, I forget which. Either way, I've closed all the windows in my apartment, because it's getting chilly at night. I'm very aware of the close of the season, and am treasuring the last warm sunny days. Which, typical of summer, have had the tiniest waves; but have been great fun. After all, when the waves are so small, the surfers are crap, and I get to be the best one out.

They blur together. The early morning session where I saw a guy who had dumped me in a most ungentlemanly way (who is normally an excellent surfer) and surfed way, way better than him, getting wave after wave, til he skunked off in defeat. A very congenial session with delightful one-foot waves and north wind, where everybody spoke to everybody and shared party waves. Today's session was largely silent but friendly, and gorgeous. There were only two of us; I had picked my spot and he picked his; and halfway through he moved over to mine because I'd judged the waves better and was getting rides where he was not. Also very satisfying because usually I'm assuming everyone else knows more than I do about surfing, that they're right and I'm wrong, and that is no longer always true. I had a great time today, getting most of my drops perfect.

And yesterday...guess what, I ran into Barney again for the first time in over a year! Wow, the last time I can easily find when I wrote about him is exactly three years ago, on Sept. 18, 2006! I was unabashedly delighted to see him. He is still exactly the same, a big overgrown nerd even older than me, with a silly grin and a silly hat. I thought he'd given up surfing but he's still delighting in trying to learn at fifty-something. I didn't care that everyone else was giving him stinkeye, we greeted each other like old friends and as if a year or so hadn't passed. He's not much better at surfing and maybe never will be; but he did stand up and get rides. It just takes him centuries to get up, like it used to take me, but he clearly doesn't mind. (I was very conscious and proud of snapping up today and practiced doing it earlier than usual, even too early in some cases.) He's still got the same crappy board (people make fun of it behind his back) and just seems happy as pie to have it. It's very comforting that in a world of change and strife Barney is still the same. He seems not to have aged at all and hasn't lost either his kookiness or his enthusiasm.

Oh, one small thing. Apparently I almost died today. I wiped out, did an underwater somersault and lost my board. An eyewitness said the board shot straight up into the air and came straight back down about an inch from my head. He was having visions of blood and emergency rooms, and then I rose up smiling. I didn't know I was an inch away from death until he told me, and then I'd rather have not known. Just a reminder that death is always a possibility in the midst of life, especially when you least expect it.