In two days I fly to LA, and from there to Namotu, Fiji, where I will absolutely avoid nearby Cloudbreak—I’m 63, the inside section at Cloudbreak is called Shish Kebobs, enough said—and instead I’ll prowl the lineup at a resort-fronting break known, appealingly, as Swimming Pools where, if my pop-up doesn’t fail me, I will do graceful slow-motion turns and trim for the channel with back knee elegantly tucked forward. I’ve never been to Fiji. I’m thrilled and, yes, a little nervous because, for real, my pop-up is a big question mark.
But wait, you may be thinking. The eagle has not landed. EOS is still very much 1.0, not 2.0. Shouldn’t the vacation come after the relaunch? Work first, then Fiji?
That was the plan, yes. But moving a website from 1.0 to 2.0, as I’ve been saying, is like moving a six-burner Wedgewood stove from the back of the truck to your upstairs Victorian kitchen, and while that task was more physically dangerous and left me back-sore for three weeks, both take much much longer than you think.
Fiji was a reward for finishing the site. Sort of. But really it was me coming off a cancer scare last winter and doing what everybody does in that situation and turning deeply, gratefully back to the things that matter most—family, obviously, and all of the small unremarkable pleasures and routines like Scrabble and Manhattans and neighborhood walks, that together combine into a life wanting for absolutely nothing. Except surfing. Out of the blue, more so than at any point in the past ten years, I suddenly really wanted to go surfing. In good waves. In warm water. So I called my lifelong best pal Marc Theodore—a Tom Curren-era NSSA National Team star who will very much be surfing the hell out of Cloudbreak—and Namotu here we come.
I feel like a fraud for even bringing cancer into the conversation. You have cancer or you don’t and I am now on the other side of the line, I get that. But there is vastness over here, a whole spectrum of dire, a hundred or more levels of prognosis, treatment, outcomes, physical and mental strain—see Chris O’Rourke and Dean Randazzo and Tim Baker and Rell Sunn—and I am on the lightest end. Bladder tumor, caught it early, chemo was brought up but decided against, and at this point they scope me every three months and yes that is a ridiculously, comically invasive procedure (“It helps if you relax,” my urologist said last time as the camera spelunked from urethra to bladder and my knuckles went white on the edges of the examining table; Gandhi himself at that moment might have kicked the doctor for saying that), but thank Hippocrates for landing me in this age of modern medicine where every three months I get to walk out of the doctor’s office with a high-res tight-focus clean bill of health.
I am skateboarding in the local schoolyard to get in surf-shape. I’d like to make an impression in Fiji, and by positioning my hands and shoulders in a certain way, I think it will be clear to everyone in the Swimming Pools lineup that I beat Larry Bertlemann in the 1977 Katin Pro-Am, and that the animal prowess has not yet been fully extinguished.
Nah. I’ll ride leg-splayed and prone if I have to, then meet Marc later for drinks by the pool and maybe be jealous that he was power-carving Cloudbreak all afternoon, but also I’ll be floating on a cloud of gratitude, to family and modern medicine, to Kahuna herself, and of course to Uncle Dan for putting that fire-engine red 7'4" longboard-cutdown piece of shit pintail in my nine-year-old hands in 1969 and getting this whole thing started.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll report back in early November.