Monday, July 11, 2011

More People From My Village

One day I stood in the waves lamenting the fact that - because I'd sent out a group e-mail announcing my summer vacation field trip schedule - I now had to answer an almost equal number of questions. Questions such as: what time will you be going? do you think you'll go again in August? Can you get back to me closer to the date?

Sheesh, I thought, it'd be nice to have some company on our field trips, but it's really easier to just do it on my own. If I'd died last week, thought it would have been easier to do it on her own could have been my epitaph.

But standing there in the water, I started to giggle. I'd always thought my problem was that nobody wanted to help me but right at that moment I realized my real problem was that I didn't want to deal with all the baggage I associated with accepting help - the tit for tat, the expectations, the relationship-piness of it all.

I'd been blaming my loneliness on the world, when it was really me who was to blame. Really, I started giggling. To myself. In the water.

And then this guy looks at me with a serious expression on his face. He says something like "if you leave your hands on your board after you catch the wave, your balance will be better." And for the next hour or so,  Ernie - 50ish father of four, plumber, former gymnastics coach at Venice High and lifelong surfer - coaches me through the best surf session ever. He gives me tips on my hands, my board, going under, turning, catching the wave - everything I could have wanted, really. And I receive it with gratitude.

Finally worn out by Ernie's strenuous training regimen ("paddle, paddle, paddle!" he yells constantly) I say thank you and head to the parking lot. There I meet Mark - another Venice old timer - who admires my beat-up 1980 Mercedes Surf Wagon because it looks like the one his dad had back in the day, when he was a kid and they used to go on surf trips. We talk  cars and beaches and discover we're practically neighbors.

A few days later, when I wonder why all the surfers are gathered on the north side of the Venice Pier rather than the south, I'm schooled in swells and tides by John, the surfer foregrounded in the photo above.

What more can I say? Maybe it's not easier to just do it on my own.

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