Posted by: smithdavid | April 29, 2012

In a thick mist

It’s our second surf of the year, second of the day. Weary limbs stroke the water tentatively. Later the urgency of the waves brings them to life. That one wave earlier was probably enough to sustain me for a time but I’m beside the ocean and soon I will leave for Dublin and so I get back in.

The car park was full this time. And so is the ocean. A line of black figures bob out back: some sit on their boards, happy to wait for a shift in the break; others drop on their chests from time to time, paddling towards a swell here, over one there, jockeying for position. They know what they’re at – they’re different to me.

'a mist descends..'

A wave rolls in and a slight blonde figure springs up, effortless, just before the break. And he’s off, weaving across the face, long hair trailing in the wind, elegant and slick, perfectly in-tune with the wave. It’s all over quickly and he’s paddling back out, waiting for the next.

I paddle on the leaden hire-board, feeling it drag in the water. Aching arms ache more. At last I’m somewhere near the line-up. My failing eyes cannot pick EV out of the crowd. The swell has beckoned and he has followed.

I sit on my board and rest for a while. The ocean swells and recedes, swells and recedes. For a while I am content to feel this easy motion, it’s almost hypnotic. Briefly I feel heavy – maybe it’s her text, maybe it’s the thought of another year gone by without roots. The heaviness flares, red hot, and then burns out.

I stay sitting on the board and watch the waves thunder to the shore. Out here I have no roots yet I do not feel adrift.

A mist descends – quick and dense. My decrepit eyes see less and less: the faraway beach has long since clouded over, the surfer’s before me only appear near the end of their rides.

From nowhere a broken but catchable wave appears. I flail, attempt to turn the board. It rushes on, sucks me in then spits me out. When I resurface it is not clear which way is land and which way is sea. But this disorientation brings no panic: there is no thought, I feel the pull of the next wave and know if I close my eyes and let it carry me, it will take me home.

Later I catch a foamie or two, never quite reaching the exhilaration of that wave in the morning. But I’m content in my misty solitude, not comparing myself with anyone else or anything, just feeling the pull and thrust of the ocean.

EV emerging from the mist

Then I’m standing on the shore, waiting for EV. Somewhere, not far away, the ocean bears him. At last he emerges from the mist, unusually silent but the dreamy distance in his eyes says it all.

Later I return the 8’6”, tomorrow I will leave Betty’s and soon after that South Africa. But within me is a sense of conviction – I will not let too much time pass in Dublin before I see the ocean again.

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