You’ll find me at the beach, or thinking of the beach. Waxing my board. Looking at the surf. Deciding which break to ride. I’m a surfer, but I don’t say it out loud. Not like the guys who wear tan jeans, blue pocket tees and black low-top Converse All-Stars. They have tans with blond hair and cruise the boulevard with their boards hanging out the back of their mommy’s new station wagons. Most of them don’t surf. Those that do can’t stand up and turn. We call them hodads.
Heck, my mom had me splashing in the waves as early as I can remember.
Though to be honest, she’s afraid of the water. She won’t go out on the pier. She closes her eyes and grits her teeth when we go over a bridge with water below. I don’t know why. She can swim. But her fear kept me from a surf board for years.
She had a nervous breakdown two years ago, and had to meet with a shrink. For months. She must have answered too many questions wrong, because she ended up at Norwalk, the place where the crazies go. It was embarrassing. Everyone knew. I did our laundry. My brother made dinner. My dad worked two jobs. But there was a silver lining.
She wasn’t around to keep me from buying my first board. It was an old balsa board that barely floated me. It cost $35. I was 14. It was hard to ride, but one day I caught a wave outside and when it reformed on the inside I made my first turn, and it was bitchin’. My buddies saw me ride it. None of them had ever caught a wave outside, made a turn, and rode to shore. I was the first. I wasn’t a better person than them, but they all had moms at home. Mine was missing.
I got a new board this summer. It’s a nine-eight quarter speed. A hodad might not know the difference between a quarter speed and a washing machine. But it’s clean and makes boss turns. I love to surf. I’d rather be at the beach than anywhere else, unless there’s no surf. Then I don’t care.