The point I thought I’d be making when I started writing about the sort of existential trip (though so much of what really happens is internal, despite a change of scenery) my friend Stephen Davis was taking was that, though he seemed adrift, taking off across the country with sketchy plans and even sketchier funding, was that, maybe, even probably, all of us are adrift.
Steve’s currently in Chicago, working for his friend, Cosmo, a landscape engineer who once was a (another) neighbor in Port Townsend. They’re busy reinstalling winter-removed pumps from rich people’s water features, among other things. Stephen is surfing, couch surfing. His plan to take a train to Colorado, since that project is on extended hold/possibly dead, has been replaced with a ticket to take the train all the way to Seattle en route back home.
He’ll arrive at about the same time as our mutual friend Archie Endo returns from an extended (new) business trip to Asia. More on that in a moment.
I might as well include the remainder of “And So Am I,” a song I wrote more than ten years ago; possibly referencing the times I’ve traveled to make some money. Mostly, and happily, in my case, to San Diego, where I did some painting for Trisha’s brother, Jim Scott (and do some surfing- in the water variety). The lyrics seemed to go with Stephen’s trip.
“…Clouds are spread out like a blanket, to the sea; like a quilted, patchwork blanket to the sea. And it’s all downhill from here, I guess that’s my greatest fear; waves of clouds are breaking, crashing over me; and they’re spread out like a blanket to the sea.
“Rain keeps falling just like teardrops from the sky; tears keep falling just like raindrops from my eyes; with the windshield wipers on, I’ll drive on into the dawn; where the morning sun ignites the clouds on high; clouds are skidding down the highway, and so am I.”
So, I updated Stephen’s and Archie’s progress to another mutual friend, another surfer, Keith Darrock; adding that I was really having some basic problems in trying to establish some connection between those of us who hold desperately to any piece of something that looks like security and those who boldly take off across the country or around the world with some vague romantic notions of…
“Adrift,” Keith said; “we’d all like to think we could be that… adrift.”
And that’s true. Surfing magazines seem to praise surfers who turned their backs on Corporate, lit off for exotic destinations. Miki Dora is legendary for surfing/living off his wits, even if it was, as portrayed, often at the expense of someone who invested, unwisely, in his quest.
Adrift? We all are, really. Stephen has met up with friends established through just being the kind of guy who makes friends with an honest ease (enough so that my client on one of three projects Steve helped me on, calling to see if I’d ever get it done, asked about him and how it was all going. “He seemed to be having a rough time.”). Archie has also (finally) taken advantage of relationships established through years of toiling all around the world as a roe (salmon eggs) expert. He is taking a job as (again, finally) a middleman, securing and buying and selling seafood from all over the world, and will still, mostly, be able to work from home on the Olympic Peninsula, seeking some ‘surf-able’ waves on the Straits of Juan de Fuca.
Archie spent some time in Phuket, surfed two two hour sessions in some Andaman Sea shorebreak on a rented board, said it released some of the tension; as did, perhaps, the nightlife he described as (I’ll have to check this) something signifying crazy. “Next surf at home.”
Okay, here’s a surf story: It was one of the first times I surfed Cardiff Reef, racing over after (high) school, and we were probably surfing there because the waves were kind of big; my friend Phillip Harper lost his board. Cardiff has kind of an outside, a middle section, and an inside; all a little nebulous, and, at that size, it breaks farther out than the breaks we were more familiar with (Tamarack, Grandview, Swamis). Maybe Phillip was looking for me to help him. I wasn’t aware of his situation. We’d like to think we have to be responsible to get in when adrift. Sometimes friends help. In this case, it was a stranger who ferried Phillip through the middle section.
ADDED/EDITED: First, I told the above story because I couldn’t think of a story of being rescued in the surf other than when I was eight or so and went over the falls at Oceanside Pier on a styrofoam surfie (kind of like a kneeboard, about three and a half feet long) broke it on the bottom, the back end against my belly. Gary and Roger’s mother, Arthella, had to save me. Really, I was just kind of- yeah, I may have needed saving. What I’ve realized since I wrote the original piece is, because I get almost all of my work through referrals, I have been rescued innumerable times, a phone call about a job coming along at just the right time.
Second, I did get a comment that, compared to the realities of war and famine and global warming, my subject matter was kind of, well, superficial, perhaps. This came from someone who had a site pushing something “Better than Botox.”
So, adrift? Yes. No. Sure; just in various degrees and at various times; not drowning, just swimming.