“Devil Winds” – Surf Story

Devil Winds - 10/07

Devil Winds By J. Friesen

I fell in love with a girl who doesn’t surf. She crochets. She doesn’t swim either, only doggie-paddles – won’t even put her head underwater. “Come on,” I plead with her. “Let me teach you how to swim better.” “I don’t want you to teach me. I’m just fine here on solid ground.” “It’s not that big a deal,” I tell her. “It’s just like taking a bath, just in a really big bathtub.” “No ... it’s not. Besides, I don’t even take baths.” And it’s a shame really, because that’s her biggest flaw – though an awfully big one at that. It’ll probably be our greatest obstacle in an otherwise ideal relationship. When we first met we were living in Costa Rica, outside San José, and I tried to court her by taking her to Jacó for a weekend. A real gentleman, I was: tourist-trap bar none, swarming with sleazy geezer pedophiles and their fifteen-year old rented Nicaraguan girlfriends; hanging out at sleazier night clubs with petty thieves and other vagrants trying to sell you coke at nine a.m. on a beach covered in empty Guaro bottles, used condoms and candy-striped plastic shopping bags. “There’s a little rivermouth that pools up at low tide,” I told her.         “Calm, shallow and safe from the riptides. All the locals that don’t know how to swim hang out there and wade. It’ll be perfect. It’s like a community pool, except … tropical.” And un-chlorinated. In reality the rivermouth was a cesspool. The locals just sat there drinking and pissing themselves all day; and it was rainy season too, so that meant all of San José was being washed down the river and collecting in the rivermouth before it spilled out into the ocean. A real gentleman, I tell you. But you can’t blame me. I only wanted to show her a good time. I wouldn’t have ever really let her in that water. It was just a ploy. My boss’ husband owned a hotel in Jacó – Las Olas. It was a cool, secluded little place with nice cabinas and hammocks, and a clean, chlorinated pool. Super tranquilo. I was going to give her a couple swim lessons – blowing bubbles while you hold onto the side, just like I did when I was four years old. Then I wanted to take her to Playa Hermosa where the waves pound so hard the ground shakes and the beach is beautiful. She turned me down, though. “I told you: I don’t want to go to the beach.” So I left her behind and went on my own. I surfed clean sets all weekend and hung out at a little beachfront cantina sipping beers as the sun set, wishing that she was there with me the whole time. Soon after, I left Costa Rica and always regretted ditching her to go surf. I often wondered if things might have turned out differently if I had stuck around that weekend, and sometimes thought I might have let a real special one slip by just so I could go and catch a couple more waves. But as they say, “God works in mysterious ways,” and a couple years later she called me up from Chicago and said she was back in the States and wanted to come out to San Diego for a visit, so she booked a ticket and flew out. That was the weekend the Firestorm began, when the waves were eight feet and throwing. We were having a real good time the whole weekend, and I was terribly glad to see her again, enjoying every moment we had together. But on Sunday morning, about six hours before she was supposed to leave, my buddy called me up from Sunset Cliffs. “Grab your board,” he said without any other introductions. “This is what we’ve been waiting all summer for.” I walked out onto my balcony and the sun was high and hot. She followed me out. “What a beautiful day,” she said. “It’s always so nice here.” “Why don’t you move out here? You could go to school at State.” “We’ve already been over this: I’m moving to Spain … but you could come with me.” I didn’t respond. I was listening to the waves. When you can hear the waves from my balcony during the day you know they’re at least six feet. And then I spotted a plane flying in from over the ocean to land, so I knew it was blowing offshore, and hard – Devil Winds. “We’re going to the cliffs,” I said, and laid a kiss on her forehead as     I walked passed her to my room. When I came back out I was carrying my board with my wetsuit draped over it, and she frowned. “I thought you said we were going to the cliffs – not to the beach.” “We are.” “You know I don’t swim. What am I going to do?” I stood silent for a moment, considering what I was about to do. “The view’s great … you can crochet.”

May 2008

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