You Can Keep It

You give up some good stuff when you search for surf in colder climates. The warm, comfortable and convenient. Easy access and predictable point breaks. Instead, you wander west on the weekends, toward what some would consider a rather cold and unpleasant experience. An experience only a few of us understand, and even fewer honestly appreciate. "It's too damn cold!" Some will say. "Don't you have to wear a dry suit?" Others will ask. Unaware. And so they come with questions; often ones with obvious answers. "There's waves out west?" Perhaps they're just unwilling to work that hard for an experience, an activity they enjoy. Or maybe they're idiots ;)

It's taken a long time for me to fully understand my addiction, my desire to surf even when the water is forty-two degrees and the ambient air feels like it's freezing. To take account of all the things I'm willing to go without: sunshine, blue skies, warm water, a sandy beach and board shorts. Exchanged instead - sacrificed if you will - for grey skies and light brown waves, tall pine trees and rocky point breaks. I've spent more than one morning sitting in our van, waiting for waves. Mornings I could have spent at home eating waffles and watching college football. Or sleeping off a hangover. I've lost a lot of afternoons as well, driving from spot to spot, searching for surf. Afternoons I could have spent shopping, or maybe going to the movies.

But do I really desire all that all other stuff? All those other experiences? The shopping and the sitting and the eating. No. I'm quite satisfied with what I've sacrificed. Experiences I'm willing to exchange for a few windy waves. Because in the evening, after a few hours spent surfing, I can't stop smiling. Talking about this wave or that one. Closing my eyes on a Monday morning and daydreaming about something I surfed on Sunday. I'd give up all the warm weather in the world to share a few small waves with my friends, afternoons spent searching for surf, or evenings curled up in front of a campfire. You can keep it, California. The sun and the sand. We'll be alright up here.

This was originally published as part of a cold water collaboration with Surf Right.