I left San Clemente on August 30th. It was a Monday. I woke up early and drove down to the jetty at Oceanside, where I found not-so-excellent waves. Carlsbad wasn’t really any better. The water, however, was probably warmer than it had been all summer, and ridiculously clear. Initially, there was one other guy in the feeble lineup, presumably trying, like myself, to squeeze in a mediocre (but still satisfying) morning session. He soon got out and left me in the company of an enormous lone seal. Later, everyone I told this to would say, “Oh. They can be nasty, you know.” or “Seals attract SHARKS!” But at the moment it seemed pretty incredible. And it was definitely a first for me.
Back in SC, I returned my rental car and shipped some cargo to the right coast. I still had a few hours to kill, and I spent those hours surfing super fun waves with a bunch of enthusiastic, long-haired 12-year-old boys. It didn’t matter that the time I had alloted for packing and showering was fast dwindling; I just didn’t want to get out of the water. When I finally did, I’m sure I looked like a crack head: bloodshot eyes and a blissed out expression on my face.
I think I might be in love with you. I didn’t want to leave you, but it was something I needed to do. Let’s make the best of this separation and reassess our situation in a couple of months.
Yours with unwavering adoration,
On Sunday, I found myself sitting on the beach. Reading. No surfboard next to me. A weird combination of factors and events contributed to this unfamiliar scenario. Read on.
numberONE: The water temperature was freakishly low:
“Holy fuck! The water is freezing today!” — Actual text message.
I believe 55 degrees is a confirmed figure.
numberTWO: “Now once upon a time not too long ago,” I hid out at Strands for an entire day (after strong-arming a hoe) and enjoyed the departure of June gloom. Yes, it’s August. Anyway, I spent the day surfing some fun ant hills. On my first wave, my ancient leash snapped. I took the opportunity to teach myself what everyone from California and Hawaii seems to know: how to surf without one. In other words, properly. With “situational awareness.”
numberTHREE: Within a few days, I was actually feeling comfortable without a leash. I was also feeling disgruntled the following Tuesday afternoon and all I wanted to do was surf–despite the fact that the waves were miniscule. I headed to Creek, which I thought might be better than the Pier (SC), which wasn’t even breaking. Creek was the least crowded I had seen it all summer. So there were about 6 guys in the water. The only rideable waves were to the south, by the rocky point that I usually avoid… you see where this is going, do you?
Here’s some nonsense from the intern log I had to write for NYU:
I have sand in my car. In the cup holders and the back seat. I have sand in my sheets, though I just washed them. I have sand on my bedroom floor and in my backpack. The ports of my computer are jammed with sand. There is sand in all of the pockets, of all of my clothes. In my ears, in my eyes. I’m sure there’s sand in my sinuses.
I arrived at LAX for the first time on a Sunday, around lunchtime. I procured my criminally overpriced rental car and managed to find my way to the 405 South: what seems to be, upon initial inspection, the most unstable freeway in the continental United States. The weird, grated concrete feels a lot less safe when driving a borrowed Ford Focus between hurried Californians hurtling along at completely unreasonable speeds.
With a sigh of relief, I pulled off the freeway into San Clemente. There were literally surfboards everywhere. I saw an old Porsche with a board strapped to the roof and fell in love a little bit.
Here’s what I’ve learned about Southern California so far:
It’s utterly packed with tacos, doughnuts, Starbucks, and – oh yeah – surfers.
June really can be gloomy, but these OC people know how to rally. They’re all about the weeknight parties. And being physically fit. And making legal U-turns. And also, being nice. I mean, I’m not even one of those people who thinks New Yorkers are rude, but the kind citizens of San Clemente make them look downright cantankerous. (Yes, cantankerous.)