Surfing is far different from most sports. Most sports have a fixed place to play. If you want to play basketball, one visits the basketball courts. The environment is sometimes regulated as well. It can be snowing out and you can be sweating on the courts in a protected building. You are on easy street in a way.
Surfing relies on weather. Foul weather. Thankfully, most swells are created by storms churning far off to sea but sometimes this does not work out and someone pays. I was never more aware of this than after one of our local hurricanes decided to not play by the script and came in to visit the Central Florida fantasy land.
I still remember the day. Driving down A1-A towards the Boardwalk. The devastated buildings. Sand covering parts of the road. Swerving around the debris. Street lights hanging mere feet above my car.
Then I padded out to barrel after chocolate barrel. Lumber floated by…tires…branches. I was in a post-apocalyptic heaven. Once I started to drive back, it really hit me. That is when I saw the people lined up to get provisions from the Red Cross truck. People were suffering at a time that I was prospering.
In my years of surfing, I have been blessed to meet many great people. Many live in the northeast. The people of Belmar, New Jersey have been big supporters of myself for years. I spent many hours hanging out in the Eastern Lines Surf Shop and I consider many of them as family. The funny thing about them is that I met one extraordinary person and within a few days I was befriended by many.
Digressing some, one can live in my city and sadly never speak to the neighbor who lives 5 houses away. Something is different here. People come and people go. People tend to stick to what they fit into. If you like the mall that is 15 miles away then that is where you go. Even if you by-pass a thousand local stores to get there. Due to this, I was very observant of the heightened sense of community and pride that seems to be more prevalent in more established northern communities. This pride is what will carry the residents of the devastated areas through.
It has been far to long since I have enjoyed a giant slice of pizza after a surf by one of the jetties that dot the coast or sat and watched Barry and the Penetrators play a gig. I pray for a speedy recovery for everyone in the northeast.