Sole SurferWaves in the Gulf are like Christmas, and this Sunday Santa came. The line-up was packed with giddy children scrambling for presents. I was one of them. You never know what the vibe in the line-up will be, but Sunday morning at Lido the stars aligned and the place was teeming with joy. I sat on my board in a literal sea of hot, half-naked men (why have I never noticed the scenery in the line-up before?) catching wave after wave while my little boy cheered me on from the beach (“Mommy, you are so awesome!”).

At one point, I thought I saw my ex surfing down the beach. Lately, even seeing a car like his on the road makes me feel like I’m going to throw up, but rather than nausea I felt a wave of unexpected goodwill. I would love to see him land an air. It turns out, it was just a Brad surf-a-like. I tried to get close enough to flirt, but he kept disappearing on waves. Oh, the elusive shredder.

Flirting, as it turns out, was the verb of the hour for me. Paddling back out after one of my rare good waves (I’m finally going down the line), I was confronted with the open, unfettered smile of youth.

“You’re probably out of school, right?” He asks me. He means high school.
“I’m 32 years old.” I say, “How old are you?”
Eighteen tan, muscled years old, damn. He just shrugs, “Hey, my mom’s friends hit on me all the time and they’re, like, 50.” I’m not quite old enough to be a cougar yet, I tell him, I’m more like a puma. Being in the middle of the bright-eyed, care-free joy of youth for a little while was a welcome relief to my solo surfing. It hasn’t yet occurred to them that surfing (or life for that matter) could be anything other than fun. Who can be lonely in a crowd like that, right?

Not long after I was being beckoned from the beach by my son’s grandparents. They were ready to go. I caught the next wave in to reality.

Later that afternoon, I would drive an hour South to drop Dylan off at his other grandparents and hunt for more waves. Three beaches and a grande latte later, I was in the water. Three hours later I was changing in the parking lot, surfed out and alone. The sun was setting on my first  solo mission. Waking up and chasing waves alone is not so hard after all. In fact, it’s 100% stress-free. Surfing alone means you come and go when you want and there’s no one to hold you in contempt should the spot you choose turn out not to be ‘the call.’

But surfing is just like life; it may be easier to go alone, but at the end of the day, something is missing when you can’t turn to someone and say, “did you see it when…”