On a day I expected to end with exhilaration, it ended with “how the fuck am I still standing here?”
Growing up as a teenager in Southern California meant you spent a good amount of time at the beach, surfing, drinking and meeting chicks. Just after I turned a teen and until I was in my mid 20’s, I surfed. I surfed my ass off.
I fuckin’ surfed a LOT. Like a shit ton.
I ditched school whenever I could and hit the surf before and after work in my 20’s. Surfing was my passion. I spent my best years at the beach grinding waves. It was an escape, a high and my passion. I paddled my way out hoping to catch that perfect ride to the whitewash. And after I did, I’d do it all over again.
I never wanted the sun to go down and even after it did, sometimes I’d surf at night by the pier where I could still see sets rolling in.
Tina has asked me one time “Weren’t you ever afraid of what was in the water? Out there in the middle of the ocean?”
The only worry I ever had was maybe a random jellyfish. And luckily, I was never on the bad end of a jellyfish story.
Generally, the waves were in the 1-3 foot range. Sometimes, they’d get in the 3-5′ range but it was pretty rare. One winter, a storm was brewing and one of my surf buddies called to say the waves were “raging” and we needed to get down there immediately.
He said Hermosa Beach was cranking out 6-7 foot waves. I picked him up and drove down there to see some to the biggest terrifying waves I’ve ever seen up close and personal. Some surfers were walking out on the breakwall to jump off into the ocean to avoid paddling through the big ass waves that were crashing the beach that day.
Being the big tough guy that I am, I said fuck that we’re paddling through. What a big fucking mistake.
If you’ve never surfed or understand the sizing of waves, they’re sized from the back of the peak which means, the face of a 7 foot wave can be 12-14 feet, fucking scary man. When you’re paddling your ass off to avoid getting crushed by a 14’ mountain of water, IT IS FUCKING TERRIFYING. Trust me on this.
I don’t think I’ve ever paddled so fast to get past the break. After getting punished by several waves and spending several minutes tumbling underwater I finally made it. I sat there in the water, catching my breath recovering, thinking “what the fuck was I thinking?’. After several sets rolled in I caught what was probably one of the smaller waves of the day, maybe a 6 footer. I rode it all the way to the beach and that was that. My friend rode in shortly after asking me what was wrong.
I told him I was done. Drowning has got to be one of the worst ways to go out and I got dangerously close that day.