There are many reasons why people don’t surf. The biggest is probably that very few people live close to an area of sea that produces waves that can be surfed on. But there are others: it’s bloody hard work; it requires a significant amount of co-ordination; you are guaranteed to take in at least three pints of saltwater; you have to carry around a huge stick.
At the moment, the main reason why I don’t think I’ll be getting on my new surfboard again tomorrow morning is because my ribs are killing me. I forgot how punishing surfing was. I haven’t surfed in four years, not since I lived in the one part of the UK where you can: Cornwall. Exhilarating but exhausting.
Yesterday afternoon at around 4pm though, prodded by my work colleague inquiring what I was doing on my birth-day-off tomorrow, I decided I was finally going to take advantage of living right on a surfing beach. So I called up my landlord (well, building supervisor) who is a surfer dude, got a recommendation, and rode at full pelt to Horizons West on Main St, Santa Monica, where I spent a bloody fortune on a surfboard, lead, wax, wetsuit, board jacket and something else.
The board is a thing of beauty. All eight foot of it. I left the wetsuit at the shop by mistake so I was out this morning in board shorts and a rashie. The water was glorious – 20 C – something that Californians think is a little cold. Having spent most of my life in the UK, if you can still feel your feet after 20 seconds in the water, it’s warm enough.
So I won’t bore people with my reflections on the nature of surfing suffice to say that it is something I should do more often despite a notable lack of any skills. I spent two hours in the water and my overall score was: 4 waves caught and rode in on (none, I’m afraid standing on the board); 4 waves wiped out (I have a few bruises to prove it); and 2 waves crushed under thanks to misjudging my take-off (possibly the ribs). This is a fantastically poor performance but I loved it nonetheless. Soon as I stop taking Ibruprofen for my ribs I’ll be back out there.
Other birthday nonsense
I lost track of time surfing and so was a little late for a haircut. There is a bloke – very nice bloke – that cuts hair at Loews Hotel near to me. I don’t know why I went to a hotel hairdresser in the first place – clearly in one of my odd moods – but he did such a good job I’ve been back twice. I’ve just realised I don’t know his name. Anyway, he’s an interesting guy – used to live in Europe, played in a band that almost made it in the 1980s. We chew over the state of the US and compare it to Europe and then we talk about music and at the end of the conversation I have a haircut.
After that I went for a massage at the hotel next door to Loews. Why? Because I have come to realise that massages are like great nights down the pub, stunning sunsets and oral sex – they all relax you to such a degree that it borders on spiritual. It pulls out the stress and reminds you that being alive is actually fantastic. It didn’t go so well as other massages this time. I called and booked a Swedish massage (rubbing, warming stokes) at 5pm yesterday. I arrived late at 11.09pm and the woman checked that I had ordered the deep tissue massage. I hadn’t but I figured I might give it a whirl anyway.
I wish I’d pushed on the Swedish as my shoulders and back were sore and achey. The deep tissue massage comprised of mildly painful prodding. Don’t get me wrong, it was still very pleasant, but there is a big knot in both my shoulders and the woman failed to work them out. I’m not sure she’s had much experience massaging men because faced with stubborn knotted shoulders, she tried to poke and prod them into submission. She failed. I’m not sure she had the finger strength (or had warmed up properly) as her fingers kept clicking. Anyway, it left me with knots in my shoulders and her feeling frustrated. The pattern repeated itself in both calves (cycling) although she did manage it with my lower back. I don’t imagine that my surfing for two hours earlier that morning made her life any easier.
Steam and sweat
After I sat in a sauna (dry) and sweated while trying not to allow my locker key to touch my arm and burn it, and then I went into the steam room and came out looking like a dunked otter. Shower (maddening five-minute hot water delay), and then back to the flat to call up my folks who were wondering where the hell I was as if was 9pm in England.
There is no point to this blog post by the way in case you hadn’t figured that out yet. I’m writing it because I love writing, it makes me happy and gives me peace and because I pondered “what would I really enjoy doing after lunch on my birthday?” and the answer was “Write”.
I check my phone occasionally to see if I’ve received any email from old friends – god bless them they have remembered (or, more accurately, turned on some Web2.0 software that reminds them it’s my birthday) – but I can see already that there are no less than 8 significant work issues that have appeared today. Do I deal with eight issues every day? Is that why I’m always knackered and yet frequently feel as if I’m running to stand still?
Anyway, that’s a question for tomorrow. I am going to do some more writing somewhere, maybe soak up some sun, and then head to James Beach in Venice, Los Angeles, California, United States of America, to have a few beers with whoever bothers to turn up. And that’s it, my 33rd birthday.