UNEDITED excerpt from
pony up or eat it
by nora o’malley
california (is a good kisser)
“That right there’s a surfer girl,” another said.
Instead of turning their way, I kept my gaze on the waves. There’s only one thing a pro surfer wants from a pretty girl anyways, and it ain’t her company in the water. Let me assure you.
When the pot wore off, I made my way back to San O to suit up for a longboard. But oddly enough, I was thinking about shortboarding the entire time.
Dating when you’re living out of a campervan is hard work, but I was trying. I picked up this one surfer boy at Blackies named Andreas. He was from Greece, studying Physics at the University of California. He surfed and he climbed, which was a bonus since I was hoping to find someone to go to Joshua Tree with. I also liked the fact that he was a gorgeous nerd with an unruly head of curly brown hair. I was a sucker for messy locks.
Our first official ‘date’ was coffee and a boiled egg (I kid you not, he made me a boiled egg) at his place on campus followed by a mission to T-Street in San Clemente. T-Street was definitely a level or two up from the waves at San O. Like Trestles, it broke faster, meaning YOU had to be faster.
We parked just up the hill from the beach where the parking was free. Andreas took his shortboard, I waxed up Patience the longboard. His dark eyes widened as I awkwardly changed out of my red jean shorts and black tank top into my 3/2 wetsuit. I already had a blue bikini underneath my clothes in anticipation for the moment.
As we approached the shore, we scouted the lineup for a spot to sit.
“I’m gonna sit on the outside,” I said and pointed to a vacant lot just left of the pod of surfers. There were some decent surfers out there. I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way.
“Well, I’ll be around there,” Andreas said and pointed to the middle of the lineup.
“OK! Maybe see you out there,” I said. Clearly this surf date was off to a great start!
It wasn’t easy getting out past the break. The white walls were much more powerful than San O and I got spit back to the shore a couple times before I finally made it out. Then I spent about an eternity trying to catch waves, but missing. Or getting tossed.
When I eventually got out of the water, Andreas was already waiting for me by the showers. He had already changed and had something to eat.
“Fuck, sorry about that! I didn’t realize I was out for so long,” I said.
“Where were you?” he said.
“I was sitting on the outside the whole time. You didn’t see me?”
“Nope,” he said.
“How could you not see me! I was the only one out with long hair,” I said.
We drove back to his place exchanging uncomfortable dialogue. He invited me up for a joint, I accepted, but in hindsight I should have just kept cruising. After the joint I stood up to leave.
“You’re going?” he said.
“Ya, I’m gonna go find a place to park the van for the night,” I said. What did he think that just because I was living out of a van that I’d put out on the first date?
Andreas desperately tried to hold my attention by offering up another joint.
“Nah, I’m tired. Gonna header,” I said. “Gimme a call if you want to go surfing again!”
I was just being polite. I knew he wouldn’t call. Surfing is an innately selfish sport, and we both weren’t willing to compromise our own ocean agendas just yet. Oh well, there’s always climbing… Only if there’s no swell or I have a flesh wound that can’t get wet, of course.
About 50km south of my dear San O is a town called Encinitas and a surf spot called Swami’s. Ray and Darryl mentioned it was a nice longboarding wave, so I figured I’d go for a drive.
The place was named after the Indian yogi and guru Swami Paramahansa Yogananda and the grounds and hermitage of one of his Self-Realization Fellowship ashrams overlooked the reef point. It was mid-tide and offshore when I pulled up to the cliff top parking lot. The waves looked friendly and the balmy So Cal sun made the water all the more inviting. I had lucked out.
After feeding myself a tomato, avocado, cheese, and hummus sandwich, I spread sticky bumps over Patience and slithered into my 3/2 wetsuit. Then I navigated the wooden staircase leading down the cliff face to the sand. The lineup didn’t look too crowded, and from what I could see from the shore, there were a good few ladies catching waves, which is always a welcome sight. As I stepped into the ocean, I crossed paths with this one woman on her way out.
“I feel like a kid!” she said to me with a huge smile.
And by the end of my session, I felt like a kid too. It was one of those days… One of those marvelous spring days were Mother Nature opens up her arms and embraces everyone with a happy squeeze. I exited the water sedated with so much love and gratitude for surfing I nearly cried.
Before heading back up the wooden staircase to my van, I lazed on the beach watching this greying hippie dude dance Tai Chi as the sun dipped beyond the Pacific horizon. Hues of yellow, red, and purple all melted together, reminding me of a Monet.
Fuck, who knows, the day was so uplifting and brilliant that maybe it was all a hallucination brought on by the copious amounts of Mary Jane I’d been enjoying lately.
Or maybe, just maybe, that’s Swami’s.
Driving along the California coast will rock your socks off. Glimpses of waves send goosebumps down your back. Towering cliffscapes perk your spine. Plush estates with wall-to-wall windows send gypsy thoughts wandering down lanes of cold roses and damned affairs…