Tag Archives: santa monica
There’s a surfboard amongst our quiver that doesn’t really get taken out much. It’s a custom Gordon & Smith 6′-2″ swallowtail made around 1973. It was my brothers’ board. We picked it up in La Jolla on on way to the Hawaiian Islands from Florida for a family vacation. I remember we took the board out at Wind and Sea the afternoon we left the surf shop. I was on my purple G&S which now resides in Lois’ garage on the north shore of Kauai and my brother Allan was on this board. I honestly don’t remember how we hauled those boards all over the islands back then, but I do remember Allan stepping on a sea urchin near Kona and peeing on the bottom of his foot. I’m not sure how I ended up with his board. I vaguely recall him handing it over to me the last time I saw him probably 10 years ago. It was all dinged up and I took it to Skip at Aquatech who said the board is great and belongs on a wall. Ollie took it out this morning at Bay Street. As he was walking into the water one of the other older guys who often stand on the beach looked at the G&S then at me and said, “Nice board.” I told him a brief history while Ollie caught a small right. “Looks, like he’s got it dialed in already.” he said.
No school, it’s Veterans Day. It’s a cloudy, late morning at Bay Street. Ollie and Simon are in full wetsuits but I still am in my trunks. I’m keeping track of my boys while sitting on my board in the warm water. Ollie is out next to me complaining that he keeps on falling. I tell him, ” Slow it down. These are small waves and you’re trying to do too much on them. You need to listen to the waves.” School has been like that too for him, rushing through math and english tests making silly mistakes.
Simon is surfing the inside bobbing up and down in the white water. When I take a wave in he yells at me how many waves he’s caught while holding up the same amount with his fingers. He asks me, “How many waves have you caught?” I answer, “I’m not counting.”
His teeth are chattering and I tell him I’m going to catch one last wave. I paddle back out to Ollie who is still battling the 1′- 2′ waves with overhead aggression. I tell him Simon and I are going in but you can stay as long as you like. Simon and I shower off and go back to the car. I takes Simon forever to get his wetsuit off so I grab my camera and walk back to the sand and take a few photos of Ollie.
I think of where my boys are. Sam, in Iowa gearing up for the winter to come, Henry is at UCLA playing tennis, Theo is probably just getting up, Simon is still struggling to get his wetsuit off and Ollie is catching a wave in. That’s it- all present and accounted for. It’s a good thing.
I haven’t posted much of anything since that big swell back in September. It’s not that I haven’t been doing anything or taking pictures. Sometimes it’s just too hard to make sense of what is going on around me. Sometimes it’s too hard to understand the places I’ve been. This was one of those times.
I can’t remember 5 straight days of waves so consistent and so big. I usually go early in the morning when it’s not crowded in the water and the sand is cold and the parking lots haven’t filled up with beach goers. This swell was different. It was so crowded at all times and there was so much stuff going on around me that I just didn’t care. I heard the current was super strong but I didn’t notice anything special as I paddled my board into the line up. And then, on a wave, the crowds and some of your worries seemed to fade away almost disappear for a few seconds as you speed by people, riding life’s liquid fabric on a foam board encased in and fiberglass.
This is one of the reasons I usually have a camera with me wherever I go. I was taking the short cut back home passing by the hilly streets that border Penmar Golf Course. I slowed down when I saw a group of guys off to the side of the road. They yelled, “CAR!” which universally translates- there are people doing things on the street where cars usually travel. Out my window I saw a skater coming full speed down one of those hilly streets, followed by another and another…
I parked, took some photos and after awhile they moved on to the next hilly street. Skate Safe.
Standing in the long line to use the men’s bathroom during the intermission to Lawrence of Arabia, I come to the conclusion that this is a guys film. There is no line for the ladies room.
The holidays are over. The vacuum bag is full and I and imagine it’s filled with miniature Legos, pine needles and Guinea Pig droppings. I’ve been pretty inactive since coming back from Florida. Could you call a stretch to get wine glasses down from the cupboard yoga? Maybe. The waves are lousy but it’s good to be in the water with Sam who goes back to Grinnell on Tuesday. He bought the Clashs’ album “Give em Enough Rope” at the used record store the other day and I can’t get “Stay Free” out of my head. This was the first Clash album I bought when I was pretty much the same age as he is now. I look over at Sam, framed by the backdrop of the Santa Monica piers’ ferris wheel and roller coaster, my feet dangle above the remnants (imaginary and real) of POP Pier. The current is is heading north but some reason the distance between Sam and me is getting bigger and he seems to be drifting away.
Uncostumed, my friend Dean, his dog Jamie, and I accompany costumed Ollie and Simon throughout Santa Monica for trick or treating. With Sam away at college, Theo at a friends party, Henry staying back with Debbie at the house with Catriona and Fion, the streets seem emptier and more quiet than past years.
After Dean leaves, since none of his kids are trick or treating and Jamie has done his business it gets even quieter. The 3 of us are left to beg for free candy ourselves. Like a protective papa bear, I listen to my kids recite the semi ancient mantras of “Tick or Treat and Thank You” from the sidewalk. I catch a glimpse of “The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” from a t.v. from a house I start to feel a bit guilty that we didn’t carve any pumpkins at all. Feeling sad and even more guilty that I missed most of Sam’s fall break and Theo’s 13th birthday because I was working in Miami. Feeling even sadder thinking about the spread out nature of things. Going out for dinner or a movie with Debbie becomes almost impossible to schedule. Sam telling us that he’s not coming home for Thanksgiving, feeling the fall in his voice when I talked to him on the phone today, sensing that the feeling of fullness in having a large family can be at times fleeting when we are spread out.
Simon sleepy, bags laden with candy, we retrace our way back home. I ask Simon if he wants to ride on my shoulders. He says no he wants to hit up a few more houses for candy. This is the 1st year one of my kids hasn’t rode home on my shoulders and even though my back hurts a bit I miss the weight.
We’re getting our last licks of the summer in at Bay St. School starts next week and it seems like nothing has been crossed off my to do list. I’m still in my 2 mil. top and trunks and perhaps lightly hung over, notice a slight coolness in the water- perhaps a harbinger of things to come. Time to scrape off the summer wax and put the cool water on once again. Simon gets out early and I watch him through the fog as he collects sand crabs on the shore. On the way back to the car he says, “Hey dad, there’s lots of surfers in the water with bald spots like yours.”