“Have you ever noticed how surfing is like heroine?”
“Have you ever done heroine?” he responded with a smirk, staring blankly across the room like her, like they were both mesmerized by an invisible TV.
“No, but you know what I mean?”
“I don’t think you can talk about what it’s like to do heroine unless you’ve done it,” he cough-chuckled.
“Whatever, you know what I mean.”
“I’ve never done heroine, I don’t know what you mean. What do you mean?”
“Whatever,” she said sighed. “I just mean how, all the time you just want to do it. All the time you just want to surf, and everything else just lives in the shadow of it. Nothing shines as brightly as it should because it’s always lives in the shadow of surfing.”
“I don’t know,” he coughed. “I’ve been sort of over it lately.”
“No you haven’t. People always talk about how its such a positive thing to do. But it’s almost like it ruins everything else.”
“I think you’ve had too much. Get out of your own head. You always do this.”
“I mean it though. Like, I don’t have very many friends because there aren’t very many girls that longboard well around here. And I usually don’t notice because I’m busy surfing my brains out all weekend and drying up all exhausted in the sand. But on weekends like this where there aren’t any waves and it’s crowded as fuck with everyone hanging out on the beach, it’s just like, fuck. Are all those hours just a waste of time? It feels like the best use of my time while I’m doing it, and then it spits me out on holiday weekends and I realize I have no fucking friends.”
“And how does that make you feel?” he asked her in a mockingly deep therapist voice, tucking his chin in and crinkling his brow.
“Like I wanna paddle out,” she smiled after a thoughtful pause, and started giggling in a tired way that made her curl up into a ball and fall over on the couch.
She’d hoped the water would have woken her up from her afternoon stupor, but the south wind created a lulling chop that rocked her back to sleep if anything. She spit out the bitter taste of salt and sunscreen, squinted her eyes at the horizon and scanned her surroundings.
“So many fucking kooks,” she whispered to herself as she eyed the direction she was hoping to go on her next wave and saw her path dotted with flailing doe eyes, legs flopped lazily to either sides of their boards.
The beach was absolutely packed for Labor Day Weekend. Cars were circling the parking lot like mad when she’d walked down with her board from their apartment three blocks away. Families were rolling down their coolers and barbecues to the sand for their semi-annual beach outing. Toddlers in oversized hats, mothers with elaborate beach chairs, EZ UP tents, fragrant sunscreens, new kits of sand toys, bags of food full of wrappers ready to be left in the sand.
Retired frat boys cocked their hips to the side and let their steadily bloating guts protrude from their still mostly fit physiques as they gloated with their red cups, thinking they were so smart to see the cops before they saw them. Girls who lived in the gym showed off the products of all the hard work, desperation and starvation. This is what they strove for. This very moment of being perceived and judged.
From the water it was all a blur. There were no singular bodies, but just one solid, steaming mass, jubilantly baking in the sun. As a girl who didn’t live in the same city as her parents, she didn’t understand the allure of holiday weekends. Everywhere you’d ever want to go is going to be full with everyone else: beaches, malls, mountains, rivers, lakes. Traffic, parking, heat, bodies, noise—all of it everywhere, including the strip of sand that always made her feel at ease.
The waves were a mess with not a clean face to be found. She got a few energetic cutbacks in, maybe two floaters, but that was that. She kept her head down as she exited the water, staring at the rocks and sand passing beneath her, doing her best to not be a part of the hubbub that was making her beach a place she didn’t want to be.
Summer was almost over and they’d all go home. The Wave Storms would return to the garages they came from. Sunburned blubber bodies would recede to their otherwise stagnant existences. And she could reclaim her beach on those still warm fall days with the north swell, familiar faces, and deep shadows spreading across the footstep-pocked sand, making the beach look like it was made of fish scales.