Monday, August 29, 2005

So Cal surf sesh #1

My bright red and cool blue surfboard fit easily into the back of the black jacked-up convertible Bronco. With gas prices the way they are combined with this vehicles gas mileage, each way costs 5 bucks. That means that each surf sesh costs 10 dollars. Oh well, this won't stop me I think, as I cruise down south 101 towards Ventura Surfer's Point. The wind feels cool compared to the sweltering heat I just left behind.

When I pull into the first parking lot, I see that it is full. The height of this truck allows me to see that there are some peaky waves happening. they are mushy and short. Not too many surfers out there consequently. A spot opens up and I back in. The first person I see is Caveman. He has been surfing this point among many others for decades. I have not seen him for a 6 months or maybe a year. He's parked next to me in a white mini SUV. There are cardboard for sale signs in the windows written with a red magic marker. He has 2 boards with him. They have an amazing shape to them - flaring out at the top and getting narrow at the bottom. Moments after he says hello, a dude wearing board shorts says: "Hello Mike Didj, how you doin?"

"Who is that?"

"It's me, Russell."

I know Russell from years ago. He grew up in Ojai. Ended up doing the dosie doe with the po po. He's put on some weight and his face looks different. When he says his name, I was like: Oh yeah.

"Russell, how are you doing?"

"I'm Hooomeless. " He says almost proudly. This does not surprise because of the various clothes that he has been sorting thru on the thin strip of lawn in between the parking lot and the boadwalk; as well as the downward spiral he had been taking since I have known him. It's nice to see him though.

"Are you gonna go surfing?" I ask him. If you're homeless hopefully you at least have a surfboard I think to myself.

"No, maybe somebody will let me use a board."

As if on cue, Caveman says: "Do you want to use one of my boards? Here, use the long board."

I paddle out before these guys. Picking a good spot, I paddle in between the breaking waves and get outside without getting my head wet. Soon after, I see Caveman and Russell paddle out. I can hear Russell whooping loudly. Caveman's gesture really touches me and for a few moments out there, Russell seems almost present, almost back in his body. The first time I met him was surfing out here: Surfer's Point. He looked so much younger then, slimmer. It is amazing how time can change some folks so quickly while others change so gradually. I guess, it is what we do with this time. We wear it on our bodies, in our minds, on our faces and in our eyes. Russell lasts for 20 minutes or so and then he padddles in.

Going from a 9'6 board to and 8 foot board, from Hawaiian waves to So Cal bowls of mush: in my head seemed like it would be easy. What actually happened though, was I kind of repeated all the mistakes I made the first couple North shore Sessions: nosing the board and flipping or popping up and landing too far back on the board and falling off or not timing the waves correctly and other, new mistakes.

Something was different with my limbic system, though. Something good. It did not matter to me that I was not getting up on any waves yet. I recognized that I was just going thru an adjustment. Also, I was not getting tired. Then, I started catching a few waves. I stayed out for 90 minutes until I caught a big wave that left me in the inside. I tried to paddle out for a while but the waves pushed me further and further in until I took their advice, rode some foam and stepped onto the round, grey, black and brown rocks.