The End of Summer

Go on, take it up. Surfing is good fun.

Endurance came to my mind the other day.

I’d just ridden a long wave into the beach after nearly two hours of surfing. The winds were blowing offshore and the waves pushing in from the South Atlantic, big and powerful. It was one of the best days of summer.

I was beaming – and totally exhausted.

I thought about shouting out my joy to a surfer friend and a few of his buddies on the beach, but I just smiled and said, “Hey.”

We spoke about the good surf and I maintained my surfer composure even though I don’t really look the part anymore at 44 and with a protruding belly.

I’ve been surfing since I was 12 and I don’t plan to stop.

Well, not for long.

The trouble was that the next day I could no longer hear well out of my right ear. It was blocked. I couldn’t even get a crackle or a pop.

A couple of days went by and my ear was still numb.

So I went to the doctor and she gave me the verdict: an ear infection and that means antibiotics and no surfing for 10 days.

I pouted.

She repeated the instructions and after hearing my plight about the impossibility of staying out of the water as a surfer, she ripped out a prescription for antibiotics from her notebook and nonchalantly said, “You can take up sand boarding.” Then she stood up, showed me to the door and said, “Next.”

With two weeks left in my days at the beach in Pinamar, Argentina, where we were spending the summer, I was miffed. I had 10 days of antibiotics – and a 10-day blackball on surfing. So I resorted to watching surf videos on YouTube, freaking out at footage of huge waves in Teahupoo, Shipsterns Bluff and in Ireland. I thought, I’d hit it, guys, but, you know, doctor’s orders are doctor’s orders.

Through all this, my eldest daughter, who just turned nine, learned how to surf. She stood up and rode three waves in a row.

Then more.

And as we sat on the beach in the waning days of summer before our trek back to Buenos Aires, where we live most of the year, she said, “Hey Dad, next summer you and I will be able to surf together.”

I smiled broadly – and then ordered a couple sets of earplugs.

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