My alarm goes off on Saturday morning before the sun shows up, every Saturday morning, intentionally. Almost every Friday after work I drive over to New Smyrna Beach and stay the night at my parents beach condo. Every Friday night I’ve got the utmost intention to wake up early and dawn patrol it on Saturday morning. All week the thought of surfing a couple waves uninterrupted by the crowds run through my head, yet every Saturday morning plays out the exact same; I hit the snooze button and get up a couple hours after the sun’s already risen and sigh after seeing the mass crowds on the one itty bitty break.
I paddle out to the massive crowd, but usually a little north or south; knowing I can catch a couple waves off to the side and it’s just a matter of time before other surfers start to notice. One by one I’m joined by someone else and usually with the same intentions as me, to catch some waves and have fun. I think it’s fun trading waves back and forth. There’s at least three or four waves to a set that are just begging to be ridden and in my head that means three or four of us can get a fun ride each set. New Smyrna has A-frames meaning that the waves breaks in the center peels to the right and a left, so most waves can be ridden by two surfers when one goes left and the other goes right. It’s kind of like poetry in motion when two surfers get paddling on the peak and they agree to go opposite directions.
Then that jerk off local shows up and all hell breaks loose. If you’ve ever been surfing chances are that you’ve seen it happen. A local paddles out with a certain swagger to him, like he (or she, but usually he) owns the place. Back paddling anyone he doesn’t recognize, barking orders, making sure everyone saw his wave when nobody cares, and god forbid you call him off his wave because you have priority.
I think it might be safe to say that when we’ve surfed a spot for at least a few years and we know that break inside and out, it starts to feel like home whether we live there full time or only show up on the weekends because of work or the occasional early morning dawn patrol before work because the waves were so good. What gives us the right to be a jerk and ruin somebody’s day of surfing because they don’t look familiar or haven’t lived there as long as us?
Deep down I think we’re afraid of people invading our happy place. Take it from me, I love having my space where I can go to just be and get away and recharge my batteries for a bit. When I’m at home it’s my room, on a backpacking or climbing trip it’s my tent, and on a surf trip it’s usually a hammock. Maybe for some people their happy place is surfing at their break. Like little kids, we’re terrible at sharing our happy place. It’s mine and you damn well better not come near it without my permission.
As hard as it might be and as much as we may not want to, we might need to share our happy place with someone else at times. We’re not mind readers and we may not know when someone needs us to let them in and share our space with them.
Maybe experiences and places really are better shared with others at times. And as long as everyone’s catching waves and being respectful of each other, then there’s no reason to be pissy right?