Monday, May 28, 2018

This Week In Not Surfing

It is the afternoon of Memorial Day, Monday the 28th of May, 2018. I am in my backyard, sitting across from my eleven year old son who is furiously writing a letter to his grandmother, rushing through it, trying to get it done as fast as he can with the requisite attention to penmanship that might keep him from a second draft. I’m not sure what he thinks he’ll do when he’s done. He’s used up his video game quota for the weekend. I'm thinking of all the grandfathers in my family who fought on behalf of whatever they thought was this country, the very first being sent to the brig for snoozing at his post by Colonel George Washington. The mirror that is the past may be dusty, but isn't so warped I suppose.

My friends send me a direct message over Instagram. They’ve just emerged from a knee high paddle out in Long Beach. I have been riding my bicycle all afternoon looking for this eleven year old in front of me who had promised he’d be back “in a couple hours” and disappeared for well over a few, apparently having made his way to watching some drunken middle aged jocks play softball at the park via a video game arcade while eating a turkey sandwich. True story, I guess. At some point I am sent to find him, making three full circuits of Northwest Brooklyn on my bicycle, stopping to speak to five different friends bumped into along the way. An all points bulletin then arranged and useless as he makes it home, unobserved and unscathed even before I do.

I do not surf.

The underground stage at Berlin is packed with the post-middleaged. This is just a few days ago. I am here to see a friend of a friend play the last night of a residency. It can be slightly amazing, then galling, to think of whom one can say is a friend of a friend in New York City. It is a tiny town filled with incredible people, especially the ones of a slightly more generous vintage, who’ve been around and been around a bit longer than you. I am lucky enough to be of a generation twice removed, but not three. Three is a bit too far gone, see. Twice still offers opportunity. Thus the gall. I simply don’t deserve it. The friend, sure I’ll call him friend, he gave me a big friendly hug before the show, plays a whole set dedicated to Lou Reed. Halfway through, the band leads a singalong of “All The Young Dudes.” I belt out the chorus with all my elders, only knowing the first few words, but making the requisite noises necessary to a filling the space with the appropriate gusto. I just don't quite recall it's boogaloo dudes.

I sit across the table from one of my business partners. Also a few days ago. The day after the singalong. We are discussing somethingerother. For no apparent reason, none that I can discern now, a few days later, I launch into a full blown memory of a good time in my life. No wait it’s not true. Now that I think about it, there is a great reason. The kids in the office want a hanging papasan chair in a corner near the kitchen and we, the older executive set, think that not for the first time they’re on to something. This initiates a sudden dragging the mental lake and I am transported back, back to the time when I was around the child the age of my sons, my family living on Hood Canal, in salt-water fronted idyll. I would meander down the shore at low tide looking for a stolen moment in some distant neighbor’s hanging papasan chair. Everyone seems to have one but us, and their sliding doors are always unlocked. I can just sneak in and swing, drifting slowly around, looking at the placid water. This would all be unremarkable save the realization that a cornerstone memory of unadulterated childhood happiness has heretofore survived unremarked. It is an odd thing to stumble upon them thus.

I do surf earlier in the week. A couple days before the singalong. Little fun waves that leave my left knee feeling like jello.

There are a few things in my life I feel I could have been alternatively good at, besides the me that's good at the things at which I've become good. For a while in high school I wrestled, like my father before me. I was good at it instantly and I remain so. I also have this nagging suspicion I could have been a wonderful modern dancer. I also believe that had I spent just a few more years living alongside the right handed point breaks of Central Coast California, I could have been a really fine surfer.

Things to not think about. That's all.

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