I’m here in Atlanta with a few inches of snow and ice on the ground thinking about our recent surf trip to Nicaragua. Looking back I am a bit amazed that it all came together. Of course, it would not have happened without significant determination, especially considering the hurdles of wives, kids, work, money, schedules, weather, and the world. Even then William’s trip was cut short with his grandmother’s death. And Nathan, coming off the heels of Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums, managed to rupture his ear with a blow from his surfboard. Glad he could surf through it.
But how did it come to this?
Of course, it all started more than 25 years ago on a scrappy little windswell at Folly Beach. We rented a couple of boards from McKevlin’s Surf Shop back when the old man was still alive. We were hooked, and so began the ocean obsession.
In contrast to the powerful and pleasing aroma of surf wax, I can still smell the old Charleston buses that cost a quarter to eventually make it out to Isle of Palms, surfboards tucked in the seat next to us. We would surf all day.
Our parents had some understanding of the obsession because every now and then we’d get a new surfboard, skateboard, or managed to swing a pair of booties and gloves for those cold winter sessions. A trip to Florida here and there, and I’ll never forget surfing with Matt Kechele and Charlie Kuhn in Hatteras near Rodanthe Pier. They pulled aerials while we watched in grom-like amazement.
We competed a little in the Eastern Surfing Association contests, Coach Kowalski shouting directions from the beach, and we managed to get first place when Mikee Rawlings didn’t enter. For whatever reason that didn’t last. Maybe our parents were afraid we’d take the surfing lifestyle too far?
Then there was Wrightsville Beach where we lived for 2 different summers. We were all in boarding school, so it was a real chance to cut off the neck tie and live life unhinged. How our parents let us live alone in a beach town at the age of 16 I’ll never know. At night we worked hard to convince girls we were in college, and in the morning we rode our bikes across the island to work as bus boys and housekeepers. But we surfed whenever there were waves.
College came and went and few, if any, waves were caught together. New York, Lake Tahoe and Charleston were all too vast of distances to organize an impromptu dawn patrol session. When we’d see each other over the holidays, cocktail parties and late night benders were the source of camaraderie. We got married. Life sped on.
Our friendship is not tied to surfing, for we share time and a place we call home. And whether we are backpacking around Europe, sitting in a deer stand, or sharing a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the streets of Brooklyn, we find plenty of things to give each other shit about.
But Nicaragua got under my skin. It reminded me how much I love surfing, and how much I enjoy sharing it with you guys.
When are we going back?
Sincerely ~ Robert