After a frustrating Friday at work and a Saturday of old familial rhythms you thought you grew out of, on Sunday you send everybody off bon-voyage-"here's your hat, what's your hurry"-style and make a break for the beach later than you normally would. At mid-morning, the hourly parking lot is already filled and, instead of circling around and around, you pony up the day-long fee because you're about ready to jump out of your skin. You flip off your early morning buddies who are out of the water but who are heading back to the sand to loiter under the sun.
The black pavement of the parking lot is hot. The sand is hot. Your collar is hot and you speak too loudly to your buddies loitering at the water's edge. Who cares about the surf report? It's small and crowded, and just because of everything racing around your head, the water looks better than it ever did.
You can't get in fast enough.
You can't get a wave either. The brain isn't working as fast as the body and the body just reacts to the freedom of the water. All the pent-up energy pours out in a flailing of limbs. By the time the body tires out, the brain takes over and feels the water and sees the waves and helps you identify the catchable waves.
And there are a few waves under your feet. They center you in the moment. A drop-knee turn calms your jerky movements. You suddenly don't feel like you need to paddle full-speed to the buoy.
And you try to comprehend what just happened. Why you're sitting there. Why you feel better. Why you felt so bad before. You sound out to a buddy floating in the water and he sounds back... a sounding board for insights found in the water. A split wave sends you twice as far from each other and you're alone with those pressing thoughts again.
A paddle-out to the buoy doesn't sound like a bad idea. But it's not frantic, it's steady. It's even. Alone and facing the horizon, you can't see the condos and apartments, the cars and parking lot, the beach chairs and boogie boards. Alone and facing the horizon, you can't hear the humanity behind you. When you're ready, you can paddle back.