Return to Water.
I made it.
The alarm went off at 0450 and I immediately stumbled with sleepy eyes to the computer to check the buoys and tides.
The numbers were a little bigger than I would have liked. I was considering backing out, hoping for an easy, small morning. I went back to sleep, setting the alarm for another half hour. I’ll put off the decision. I was a little nervous about my first attempt to get back in.
There is always a reason not to go.
That thought was the first to enter my mind when the alarm went off again.
I need to get back to normal.
The familiar drive, the sky slowly growing light, stopping to pick up John.
I brought both a pair of swim fins and a 5’8″ soft top surfboard. I’d decide which seemed safest when I arrived. Each have their respective risks right now. Swimming and bodysurfing is less likely to produce cuts or concussions, as long as I don’t tangle with the sea floor, but surfing would be easier on the heart as I’m not fighting currents to stay in place. I wouldn’t normally want a soft top, but I figure it’ll minimize my surfing risks while I’m still on blood thinners. Two months to go…
A little nervousness was palpable when I crested the hill for my first view of the ocean. Water rough, things were a bit disorganized. But there was some swell, a few nice rights peeling off the first jetty. Six people were on it already, which didn’t seem appropriate for my my first time back out, so we walked further south to what we call Barnacles or the Bat Cave, a mollusk-encrusted concrete seawall known for fast waves. The end of it facing the ocean is a black tunnel leading into the abyss, easily prompting nightmares about getting washed into it by a large wave. Nobody likes sitting in front of it.
The waves were jacking up, refracting off the north side, barreling and slamming into shallow water. Fun and fast and crazy looking, but definitely not for me today.
The south side was more promising. Better shape, a little less violent. I decided to paddle out on the board, fins would be too much work in all the current.
The water is still warm, I’m taking it easy paddling out, using the the strong current running the sea wall to pull me out faster.
A set is rolling in, I paddle harder to beat the first wave.
Diving deep I drive the nose into it, pushing the tail under with my foot, catching a quick glimpse of a school of sardines shimmering through its face. I emerge out the back to spray from the breaking lip showering down on me, mist golden from the rising sun.
A baptism, a rebirth. And smiles.
I didn’t want the morning to end.