“It’s a real thing. Surf addiction.” That’s a quote. Not from me, but from someone else accused of, and I would say guilty of, having the same addiction I’ve been accused of having, by Trish, for the fifty-two years, approximately, that we’ve been together. Oh, but I had the addiction before I met her.
Okay, I’m still at the stage where I am thinking about how to write this; which means, really, how to organize all the bits and pieces bouncing around; get all the stories and theories and ideas to flow, to break evenly, A-frame peak to shore. Yeah, I’m considering the dilemma and the choices facing those of us who have an obsession with a recreational activity/sport/lifestyle/addiction that is, on its face, kind of arbitrary and self-centered and possibly ridiculous and obviously unnecessary and… oh, you disagree? Sorry; that’s how surfing appears to someone who doesn’t realize the way one good ride on one good wave hooks even the goofiest kook, gives him or her (increasingly her) the desire to get an even better ride on an even better wave.
GOLF, MOUNTAIN CLIMBING, BOWLING, chess, gardening, baking, a million other activities someone somewhere is addicted to are, to be clear, equally unnecessary in someone’s image of a real world.
I’m sure you’ve also considered that surfing takes place in one of thousands of alternate universes, or even, individual universes, each one bumping into or taking off in front of someone else’s universe. Whoa; all that thinking’s TOO DEEP for me;
SO, let’s consider this PART ONE, in which I admit, or explain, or confess, as that might be closer to the truth, as I have to multiple surfers and, particularly, to non-surfers; that, in my relationship with Trish, love of my life, surfing has always been the other woman. NOT, I should add, a secret other woman; Trish knows her very well; and has her own, not to get all gender-y here, or get confusing by spending some time on the times Trish and I were in the water together (though I am thinking of one particular afternoon we were both caught outside on surf mats in some serious conditions); connection with and love for the ocean. And that connection predates… me.
THERE is a lot that goes with the easy phrasing, the other woman and our long-term affair with a true if not, obviously, faithful (fickle, angry, playful, stubbornly calm) force of nature. The ocean doesn’t love us back. Sorry. Okay; maybe sometimes; but the ocean is always beckoning; the rhythm too close to the beating of our hearts. MAYBE that’s too dramatic.
THE LATEST DRAMA in which the subject came up involved a friend (I’ll see if he’s cool with me dropping his name here) whose girlfriend (and the participants aren’t high school age, but the ‘would you rather go surfing or stay with me?’ thing is, no doubt, involved) broke up with him, again, after her latest attempt at an intervention apparently failed. The ultimatum, if there was one (dangerous, those ultimatums) failed because, as he quoted her, “You’re on your phone all day; and it’s not like ‘normal’ stuff, Instagram, Twitter, porn (she may not have said ‘porn,’ but it adds something); no, you’re looking at buoy reports and surf forecasts and webcams (surf spot webcams, to be clear).” Yes, that is true, but sometimes he’s also surfing, or more likely, hanging out waiting for waves, searching for waves.
HE was telling me about the breakup when another surfing friend called me back, no doubt to see what I knew about any possible wave activity. SPEAKER PHONE. “No, surf addiction, that’s a real thing.” There’s the quote. Now I have to check with him, a surfer as addicted as any I’ve known, to see if he’s ok with his name being sailed on the cosmic winds. I’m guessing he isn’t. ANYWAY, he disclosed that he has had some serious discussions with his wife, and he, as we all do, offers to cut back on scheduling his life around time and tides and buoy readings.
“Have you ever considered going and not telling her?” That was my question. I have never done that. Honest. No, I’m actually not lying. “Yeah; did that once. She asked me how come I had seaweed in my hair.”
THE FIRST STEP, evidently, in quitting any addiction, is wanting to quit. “So,” name redacted (at least temporarily), “Do you want to quit surfing?” Head shake. “What did he say?” “No, he doesn’t want to quit surfing?” “What about… hey, that’s a pretty serious step. He could just cut back.”
Cutback. Bottom turn. Climb back into the pocket…
The next day, having missed what another surf junkie described, me getting this second hand, third hand, maybe, as ‘the best he’s seen it in quite some time;’ the non-recovering surf addict did, indeed, head toward the shoreline, searching for whatever it is we search for; constantly, relentlessly, with a certain disdain for the things we must do (work, for example) in order to answer that siren’s distracting but clear call.
IN PART TWO… I have no idea; I’m thinking about it.