Month: June 2015

The Best Surfer in the World….

2015-06-24 13.16.29

Yesterday was one of those days I won’t soon forget.  And hopefully one that my younger son, Everett, won’t soon forget, either.  I think everyone remembers the first time they stood up on a surfboard.  Mine was December 5, 1995.  I recall the moment like it was yesterday.  Freezing water.  About the most north-westerly point of the continental US.  I think we actually parked on the beach, and it may have been an indian reservation where we unloaded the truck.  In the water, I was basically totally hung out to dry by a couple good buddies of mine from undergrad.  Left to my own devices. Actually pretty dangerous, in retrospect, once I sort of wandered out beyond fooling around in the whitewater.  My leash wrapped around a car-sized, partially submerged rock, pulling my face beneath the water when the waves surged in.  Surreal, as I watched my buddies off in the distance a hundred yards further out.  They would never have any idea what had happened to me.  

Afterwards, I don’t think I ever even mentioned my little brush with immortality to them, though.  Because the lingering euphoria I felt after that session from standing up for the first time was overpowering.  The flirting-with-drowning-thing was well worth it.  

June 24, 2015: Nine year-old Everett’s first wave was presumably less dramatic, but hopefully no less memorable.  As a kid who grew up in the middle of New York State, I am frequently envious of my sons’  ongoing experience of growing up on the California coast.  I would have killed to begin surfing when I was 9 years-old, as both of my sons have.  They don’t have to kill anyone or anything for the opportunity.  

And unlike most of the amazing things these boys experience every day, the surfing thing is not one that either of them takes for granted.  The looks on their red faces after they first stood up — I recognize that look and that underlying feeling very clearly.  I witnessed that expression play across Everett’s face for the first time yesterday; I see it broaden Max’s smile every time we get in the water.  And I felt it on my own cold face nearly 20 years ago.

People say the best surfer is the one who is having the most fun.  I think that’s probably true.  In no parallel universe would I be anything other than the worst surfer in the world.  But nothing brings me more joy and makes me happier than seeing my boys experience the ocean like we did yesterday. I wonder what it would feel like to see their kids (my grandkids) surf for the first time?  I hope I’m around for that, that likely would make me the best surfer in the world.  

Thanks for reading.

The Times, They Are A Changin’….

2015-06-16 15.26.24

My boys are getting older.  I don’t see it as much with my own eyes, until I look at photos I’ve taken.  Like the one above from the bleachers at yesterday’s Giants game.  I can’t help but dart from one boy’s eyes to the other’s, trying to absorb what they are thinking.  What they are feeling.  Who they are.  Maybe even get a glimpse of who they will become.

Hard to believe I “caught” both of these little humans, like slippery fish, the moment they came into the world. I am reminded of that fresh fish market in Seattle where the apron-clad workers sling giant stripers and such around the pier like wet rugby balls.  Seems like yesterday.  Also seems like about 20 years ago.  Then again, 20 years ago, we didn’t have kids.  That seems unfathomable now.  What was life like before kids?  No idea; I can’t remember.  And increasingly, I’m fairly certain it doesn’t matter.

Both boys are headed off to sleep-away camp on the East Coast in, oh, about 9 days.  This is Max’s third trip, and Everett’s first.  They will be essentially off the grid for 4 weeks — no iPhones, no Internet, no email, no phone calls home, and probably not much in the way of old school letter-writing either.  Their bedrooms here at home will lie dormant for weeks.  Silent and sterile.  Little museums memorializing their lives circa June 26, 2015.  Frozen in time.  Chocked with autographed baseballs, dog-eared books, mismatched socks dyed every color of the rainbow, candy wrappers strewn about as evidence of verboten activities.  Full, but empty. 

The empty part once left me breathless when Max first left home for camp 4 summers ago.  I could barely bring myself to glance into his bedroom knowing he wasn’t in there, and wouldn’t be in there, for several weeks.  Strangely, I find that I am not experiencing these same lonely pangs this time around.  This despite the fact that both of my sons will be out of my grasp for nearly a month, 3,000 miles away. 

I guess their sleep-away camp has also been a sleep-away camp, of sorts, for me.  Training wheels for all of us.  As much as I struggled with my emotions the first time around, I find myself at ease, more or less, a few years farther out.  Even the thought of college (suddenly not that far off now), is not as terrifying and gut-wrenching as it once was.  I now know that my boys and I will arrive at the same point of “mutual readiness” when the time comes for that particular chapter.  I’m looking forward to seeing the photos I take a few years and several such chapters from now. 

The times, they are a changin’.  And as it turns out, I’m cool with that.

Thanks for reading.