Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Stranger on the Beach

I was laying on the beach on a Tuesday afternoon during a San Diego summer.  Since Wednesday I had finished the bar exam; moved out of an apartment; and spent a weekend in San Francisco.  Now I was laying on a beach in Cardiff-by-the-Sea and my earthly belongings (of which there are few) were scattered about Eugene and Portland Oregon.  I was a man without a home and a stranger on the beach.

I lay shirtless with my feet in the sand and a fruity sheen of Coppertone glistening on my chest.  My Oregon whiteness was surely glaring among the bleach white hair, leather brown skin, and blue water.  Out in the ocean I watched a mess of blue surf boards and kids of all ages and sizes thrashing about in the water.  Some were catching waves, others were bobbing, others were flying happily into the water off their boards.

Mixed in among the fleet of identical blue surfboards were several adult size wet suits.  I soon realized these kids were members of the Eli Howard Surf School and the adult sized wet suits were their instructors.  The kids laughed in the sun.  Shouts from all over demonstrated unbridled excitement at the success of standing atop the water and coasting down the face of a gently curling wave.  They exuded pure summer.

I smiled as I recalled endless younger days of sports camps and sunscreen.  Growing up in the desert, the notion of spending my days surfing had never occurred to me.  However, here I was, 25 years old, in the middle of a weekday watching kids enjoying the greatest child hood pastime: summer.  Despite the purity of youthful joy all around me, I lay pondering what type of liability release forms the parents of these kids had signed.  I was a stranger on the beach.

I waded out into the water and looked back at the western coast of Southern California.  The water washed over my head.  The ocean has a way of making a man feel very small--rightfully so.  All I can do is keep my head above water and keep swimming; but there are no instructors, I can swim wherever I please.

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