On West Cliff, Anything Is Possible

For the first time in six years, they called the Eddie on at Waimea Bay — I was already halfway to Santa Cruz. I arrived at high tide with two boards I didn’t want to ride. One too beautiful to put in harm’s way, the other so small I knew I was doomed. The waves were big. Emerald a-frames blitzed middle peak in rapid succession.

I grabbed my silly little board and told myself encouraging things; things that would help me paddle through the formidable current. I had no other choice. At the main stairs, a man caught my attention. He said it was not a good plan, my plan to ride that board.

“I plan on getting worked, ” I told him confidently. He cocked his head at me in sympathy and then saved my day.

“Take mine,” he said.

He was standing next to a car stacked with longboards. I took another look at the roaring ocean and then borrowed this stranger’s expensive equipment without any reluctance at all. He’d locked his keys in his car and had to run across town to get his spare. “Surf for as long as you want. The longer the better!” he yelled at the back of my head.

The waves were heaving over themselves at middle peak and then mushing out until they reformed into lengthy, round walls all the way through indicator. Each wave just like the last. A focused kind of euphoria disseminated through the inexplicably uncrowded lineup. Strangers hooted one another in encouragement. The wind threatened to turn but never did and eventually it weakened so much one could barely tell it was there. Beyond the trails of whitewater, the kelp undulated on top of the water like lace.

I surfed myself to mush, till my thoughts were abstract and inarticulate. I experienced uncharacteristic surges of meaning. I think I even briefly accepted that everything happens for a reason.

On land, the man with the board reappeared. He had a beard like a viking and apt at divulging information about himself. Though at the time it didn’t feel like he was talking very quickly. He lived in Michigan and said he had recently became famous on Youtube for having his beard turn completely to ice while surfing in one of the Great Lakes. He said he had to go back on Saturday because someone was making a movie about him (well, it was actually about his beard).

The previous night he bought six thousand dollars worth of a rare kind of crystal from The Magician. He spoke about The Magician matter of factly, like he was an old friend we both knew. He had a five gallon bucket full of these crystals, right there in his Ford Explorer. They looked like football-sized shards of ice tinted sea-foam green. He said their vibrations were high. He said they could heal people. He said these things without any of the pretentious undertones I’m used to from people who believe rocks contain secret powers. This impressed me.

He lay out six thousand dollars worth of magic crystals on the sidewalk at West Cliff while the ocean heaved and the sun started to set. Then I said I had to go. I told him he was an angel for lending me his board. He gave me a look that said, “you would have done it for me,” which he had zero proof of but which I know he wholeheartedly believed.

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