Swim in the storm, Mona Vale, by Charlie Grosso

We rented a beach house but we didn’t consider the weather or check the surf condition. It’s been overcast and chilly. The current is too strong and too rough for beginning surfers on long boards. Our surf house dream is punctured by tiny shards of irony, or lack of planning. None of us seemed to mind, at least not yet. Every day, I take a walk on the beach, up to the bluff, down to the pool at the edge of shore. I dance on the beach at dusk, headphones in, in complete privacy of the dreary weather.

I wake up to rain. A steady downpour. To stay dry, you need an umbrella. And a parka. And rubber waders. Or you could shut the door and stay inside.

In between the storm, I went outside. As it’s power wanes, as it catches it’s breath or taking a moment in a relay race with another weather system. I zip up my purple parka, noting all the details on the Arcteryx, loving the weight of the Gore-Tex and fit. It’s far more solid than the Northface I retired. Slipping the iPod down the inside chest pocket and lace up my hiking boots.

The rain falls lightly. The streets are quiet. It is Holy Saturday. Tomorrow is Easter.

There are two dots wrangling the wind against a steel gray sky. Kite-surfers. There are few out-of-towners standing under the pavilion looking on. I walk pass them and down the beach. The kite surfers are fearless the storm, harnessing the 23 mph on shore wind and my sense of possibilities. The surfer with the orange and blue kite stays far from the beach, traveling parallel to shore in a steady patient exploration. The other kite surfer, the one with a black kite, races towards the beach picking up speed on the down wind, and before you knew what’s coming, he is up in the air in a huge “floaty” jump. Ten, twenty, thirty feet up above the sea. High up in the air, he arches back and grabs the board from behind the way snowboarders do, then gracefully let go, gentle plop down on the surf, speed towards the shore pulling a sharp 180 degree turn and head back out to do it again.

I was never a dare devil child. I worried a lot about hurting myself and even more about embarrassing myself in front of my more athletic siblings. I was the bookworm, the class president, the artist, the A student. We each had our assigned roles and I never venture beyond what came easily, fearing being de-throned from the comfy perch that separated me from them. Except now, un-insured, a lot older, much more fragile and breakable, I want to try every adrenaline filled sport there is. I found poetry beyond the page; I’ve fallen in love with life on the edge. Harder, faster, higher — the more dangerous the better. The more ridiculous the adventures, the less I hesitate. Lets go before the nay-saying self shows up to wonder about how to fund the expedition or where to find the time. I no longer worry about dying or getting hurt.

Tethered to a kite with boards strapped to his feet in the middle of a storm, the kite surfer is flying like Mary Poppins, doing trick in mid-air with the panache of Shaun White, riding a roaring ocean like a Grecian god. Yes. Yes. That. I want to do THAT.

The wind is picking up and the rain falls harder. There are two teenage girls at the edge of the water. I noticed the black umbrella before I saw them. Long whispy brown hair in blue and white bikini, and super short nearly shorn head in bright yellow. They organize their bags and shoes under the umbrella on the sand, recompose their unease in the cold into a “I’m having the time of my life” smile, snap a selfie and gingerly step in the pool at the edge of the ocean — a pool built into the buff fed by the sea. Maybe this is a dare; maybe they are tramping about on a gap year. They cross their arms across their chest, in shyness and uncertainty that wouldn’t be if this beach were their haunt. A swim in the storm should be remembered, this is a selfie worthy moment, maybe I should take one.

I walk to the edge of the pool, on the bluff and the rocks, as far out on the edge as possible before I’m within reach of a sneaky wave. The sea is getting violent. The rain taps a ticker tape of secret message on my purple parka. I can taste the ocean. I can taste the rain. I can taste the exhilaration that is building inside. I am on the edge of the bluff, the edge of the world, in the middle of forever. On cue, Pearl Jam plays on the iPod. I defy you to tell me there is no magic. The perfect song always plays.

Does time exist in a storm? It must. The orange and blue kite surfer is on the beach; the teenage girls are climbing out the pool. Mr Mary Poppins is still out there. I want to stay but its good to know when the moment has passed. The girls dry themselves, fighting against the wind to close the umbrella and gather their things. With a blue beach towel draped across both of their shoulders, they make their way down the beach towards the street.

I head back towards the house, salty, wondering when I will get to flying across the waves.






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