#39: Trekked out early, but not early enough — a crowd of a dozen or so hovered around the four-square-foot takeoff zone. Par for the course. I surfed erratically, unable to shake off various worries. My timing suffered and my balance was thrown by the extra weight, heavy thoughts, in my head. Usually surfing clears my mind, sloughs off the extraneous. Lacking confidence, I passed up waves, making sure the better surfers got theirs. A weird thing happened: this guy I don’t know said to me, when a set came, “Not your turn!” First of all, who the fuck are you, really? Second, I am a class-A turn-taker. Third of all, who the fuck are you? If I’d had it in me to feel miffed, I might have. But it was so silly. Shoulder-high lefts coming in like clockwork meant plenty of waves to go around. Stakes were low. I stayed out, compensating for the waves I blew by making others. Ended on a pretty one that took me to the beach.

#40: What to say? More of the same, only the wind shifted, so was a little bumpy and a lot less crowded. Here’s what the rest of it was like: gray skies, north wind scattering sand grains across ATV tracks. I’d been happy to see the ocean temps holding at 54 degrees and the air temps around the same, meaning I could forgo the dreaded gloves. Bare-handed, the water stung at first, but my fingers grew used to it. Sea stars dotted the dolos at water’s edge. Algae foam washed over my board. The currents create a sort of triangle in which the waves slosh up in the channel; I sat on my board and let the rip current pull me along, out to sea, out to the line-up, where one other surfer waited. I caught some waves. I dorked out on a few, theoretically working on my attempt to pop up and stay low. My center of gravity is too high. I had a weird thing — a panicky feeling I never feel underwater. Odd. Subliminal stress manifesting, I think. But it was good. It’s always good.