If I lost you in the lines…

…in the glare, in the crowd; I know I’ll see you later.

Image (211)

It’s high season for painting houses, and quite a short season it is here in the great northwest. It might be considered fortunate that it’s off-season for surfing, even on the coast. I would love more time for writing and drawing and, yeah, I’d like to see something a bit more promising in the surf forecasts.

So, this one time… this one time I moved over from the rights as the tide flattened them out. About the time I got to my preferred lineup for the lefts a set approached. Big Dave was the only one farther out than I was. “Oh,” I said, “I’d love to take that first one.” “Well,” Dave said, “It’s your birthday.”

It wasn’t. But, recently, it was; and there was a bit of a bump, and… okay, it wasn’t classic; there were roll-throughs and closeouts and a sideshore wind, and, along with the many waves I caught during my five hours in the water, there were several pretty nasty wipeouts, cuts on both hands, a wound on my calf, sore muscles, and one ear plugged up for several days.

And now it’s back to sweating, painting some crappy apartments in Bremerton.  But, I am taking a little time to finish a drawing, do some (this and other) writing, study the forecast. My thinking is: I’m not getting any younger.

UPDATE: Archie Endo has returned, at least temporarily, from Thailand. The stroke he suffered there has left him physically weaker, and he thinks it’ll be a while before he can get back to his soulful and stylish longboard surfing.   Stephen Davis and Mike “Squintz” Cumiskey helped him get settled back into his house.

Hydrosexual Stephen Davis, who just left for the Big Island this morning, took Archie to the pool in Sequim, and said, when Archie got in the water, “He just lit up. You could see the energy coming back.”  Archie confirmed this. Hopefully, with some proper therapy, we can see our friend parallel-stancing his way across some northwest waves.

Advertisements

Spirit Guides and a surf session made…

…special.

Image (210)

I called my brother-in-law, Jerome, on Wednesday when I couldn’t make the memorial. Couldn’t. That’s a loaded word; the ceremony was in Illinois and I’m… I’m here. Part of the couldn’t has to be that I haven’t faced my sister Melissa’s passing. Passing. Couldn’t. Haven’t; not sure I will; face it. Eventually, I’m just not sure when. Our (Trisha’s and my) daughter, Drucilla, made the train trip down state from Chicago several times, as the prognosis worsened and my sister weakened.

Still, it all seemed too sudden. Way too soon. There hours before Melissa passed, Dru would return on Friday, representing Trish and me, supporting her uncle and her cousins Fergus and Emma.

Oh, I know it’s real, real like our (his eight children) father’s passing last December. I know they’re both gone, not sure where they’ve gone to. Once a person realizes (or accepts or believes) we each have a soul, something separate from the body, even from the “I think, therefore I am” consciousness, something more than just BEing; one can’t help but imagine that this very more-ness is, has to be, somehow, transcendent.

There was a full moon the night my sister passed. Is that relevant?

“You know,” Jerome said, “what your sister would have wanted is for you to go surfing.”

I tried. On Friday, with friends and relatives recounting stories two thousand miles away, I worked, crazy-hard, to finish another job while monitoring the buoys. There was a chance. As is so typical on the Strait, on that long summer evening, it was ‘almost’ something. Just not quite enough. Even so, I almost talked myself into paddling out into one foot chop. Almost.

Allow me to mention the story Jerome told about the hawks. The last painting my sister completed is of three Cooper’s hawks. During the last week, with my sister Mary Jane (Janey to me) helping out, and my sister Suellen en route, three Cooper’s Hawks landed in the trees behind Jerome and Melissa’s house, and stayed there. Every day.

Spirit Guides? I’m willing to believe so.

On Monday I met up with Mike “Squints” Cumiskey, headed out. The surf was just a bit better than ‘almost,’ probably in the ‘barely’ category. Other surfers were in the water. It’s been a long, mostly-flat summer. Bruce, the Mayor of Hobuck, according to Adam “Wipeout” James, checking it when we arrived, eventually talked himself into going out.

Maybe it’s because I persisted, a paddle providing a lot of the power on many of the waves; but, at some point, I was the only one out. It would be something if I said that, for about twenty minutes, the waves improved; not all time, but lined-up, a bit more power, and every time I paddled back out, another set was approaching.

It was something.

Though most of the other surfers had left the beach for the coast or home, I have witnesses: Mike, Bruce, Cole. They agreed it was, for this day, special. Please forgive me if I give my sister a bit of credit.

A NOTE about the drawing. I told Jerome I would write something about the surf experience, and I’d do a drawing; I just wanted it to be good enough. “Oh, so, like your sister, it has to be perfect.” It was almost a question. No, but it has to be good enough.

Were We Always Drowning?

A moment of panic, brief but intense,                                                                                                                      A sideways wave in the mouth that shouldn’t have been open,                                                                            Swim, breathe out, stroke, breathe;

This isn’t the first time, the surprise,                                                                                                              Water, somehow in the throat and the nose;                                                                                           Coughing, choking, treading water, realizing your feet no longer touch,                                                     The deep end;

“Oh,” you say, “I only play in the shallows,”                                                                                                Running up and away,                                                                                                                                               Back down the slope, challenging, full gallop, full dive,                                                                                Under the roll, rolling;

I’ve said I would never surrender,                                                                                                                          Never sink into that cold, dark deep; bottomless;                                                                                                   I can float when I can no longer swim;                                                                                                                  But I do know that panic, the fear; we all do;

“Swim,” we all scream, in unison;                                                                                                                        Each of us believing, hoping we’re still safely ashore,                                                                                     Each wave washing out moats around our feet,                                                                                          Looking for that wave that will wash you closer, close enough;

Helpless, hands extended out or up,                                                                                                                      Out to the horizon, up to the heavens,                                                                                                       “Rescue… please;”

The knowing, eventually,                                                                                                                                       Washes over the believing and the hoping;                                                                                                       Panic and fear and hope and struggle;

Looking away from those lining the shore,                                                                                                        That line, loved ones, a chorus, an almost-heard song                                                                                     Just above the farthest-reaching wave;

The clouds, different waves in a different sea;                                                                  Floating;                                                                                                                                                                       It’s not surrender; we were always drowning.

Image (209)

For my youngest sister, Melissa, who floated away sometime during the night.