Friday, May 7, 2010

(little south swell pulse the last two days... sunburnt.)

Jeff had called me at 5am that first morning almost two years before. That wasn’t too unusual. Since we had met the previous summer we had gotten in the habit giving each other the surf check at first light. Whoever had gotten to the break first would call the other and report on the wind, tide and swell. Sometimes all that was needed was a “Get your ass down here!” howled as the caller hurried to pull his wetsuit from the trunk and start undressing. We had become good buddies.
I was usually the one calling, and it was flat, but when my cell rang that morning I knew who it was. “Jeff,” I whispered into the phone, “give me a second, Alice is sleeping.” I stumbled to find my stiff legs, lift myself to standing, and lurched softly for the door.
Jeff began rambling. “I can’t believe you’re not up yet. That woman might not be so good for you. The con has got nothing.” He was referring to Rincon, our local surf break. “I’m headed south to Shores, I don’t know what’s up with my chick. She was trippin’ on me last night. Maybe there’s just a pulse of that south left… she tried to tell me that I didn’t have any drive, can you believe that?”
“You don’t have any drive,” I stated in a whisper as I stepped softly from the bedroom, jeans clutched with my elbow, feeling along the wall with my hand to make it safely past the bookshelf where I flipped on the light.
“I don’t even know what she means.”
“She’s probably got a point then,” I half joked. We had had this same banter several times before. By now I knew the script.
“I know what is important to me. I’m up at dawn aren’t I? Isn’t that drive?”
“Are you in your car?”
“I’m passing Seaclif now.” He was just wasting gas, I thought, but there was an outside chance there were waves down south.
“Listen, you know what path you’re on. Don’t let her rattle you. That’s the real challenge with a woman. Be the mountain. Maintain consciousness.” I struggled to pull my jeans on with my free hand.
“I was in Ventura yesterday and I saw this sweet boat for sail. She’s a forty-six foot cabin cruiser. Double mast.” I could hear the car door open and slam shut in the background. He must have arrived at the fairgrounds. This was not the first time that he had brought up the idea of a boat, but this would turn out to be the one that stuck.
“How much?” I was only vaguely interested. A boat was an expense that neither of us could really handle at the moment.
“Fifty thousand. But she is a beauty. A real deal at that price… hey, there’s a nice little four foot set rolling through.”
“No shit?”
“No shit man. It’s glassy and about shoulder high… no, I’m just fucking with you. It’s flat. What a waste of gas.”
“I could have told you.”

We didn’t surf that day, the swell was dead, but Jeff did drag me down to Ventura the next afternoon to look at The Santa Rosa.
She was at the end of a row in the marina. Both of the boats on either side of her were bigger and one was nearly new so she didn’t look like much to me at first. The decking was weathered and even from the gangway there were visible cracks in the old teak. It had obviously been a while since she had been taken out and there was seagull crap splattered all over the deck, railing, boom and cabin. Cables clanged against the hollow masts of boats all over the marina as a stiff afternoon gust blew the smell of salt and kelp in from the channel. “Whatdya think?” Jeff prodded me.
Truth was that I didn’t think much.

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