I Am Pan

 She sat on the warm sand, her arms behind her propping her up. “I feel sorry for the people who wish they could go back,” she said and buried her feet buried deeper into the grains, her face still tilted to the sky. Women like her demand attention, from the sea, the sun, from men like me who always feel she is on loan to us. Moments later she readjusted, fixing her eyes on the far shore, its champagne sands bleeding into the golden hillside. The dark cauliflower of its distant trees, like scattered buffalo on a frontier plain, climbed the hill in the mountain’s shadow.
“Go back to when?” Sometimes I would get so caught up in watching her mouth move as she talked that I’d miss what she’d actually said.
She sat up, and in one, smooth motion turned to me and crossed her legs. “You know,” she said, “the people who always want to go back when they were younger.”
“I know,” I said, looking down at the sand falling through my hand. “Me too,” I lied.
To be honest, there’s not too much about growing up that I miss. I don’t miss the melodramatic “Oh my god” high school girls. I don’t miss getting in trouble with the cops because, in our youth, everything fun is illegal, and mostly everything that is illegal is fun. Some might say that if you don't miss it too much, it probably wasn't that great to begin with.  All I can say in response is that it was great enough to know that I wouldn’t change a thing.
I always wonder why when I overhear someone whining about how he wishes he could go back and be a kid again. Granted, I’ve been guilty of it too, but I find myself engaging more and more in conversations vying for childhood bragging rights. Stories exchanged about the way it was back home, stories that start with, “I remember this one time” and usually end with a smile, a laugh or the clinking of beers. Because as surfers we’re all trying to be Peter Pan—fairy dust and tights excluded—and our Neverland is our sport, it's the theater of our youth. Surfing is where we go to be kids again, so we don’t have to look back with regret. Surfing simply keeps us young.  Wave after wave after wave.
I admit it, I’ve often tried to go back and relive those summer days; I'll skip work, thinking, hoping that if I can catch just a morsel of the feeling from that time in my life, then . . .  But I never do, and it’s never the same. The flame that was my youth is now just the pilot light that only remains lit by surfing.  Now and then, when my friends and I can sync our calendars so that we play hooky on the same Monday, the furnace is blazing again.  And I know this is because we are surfers -- to the core, and at the heart.  And as such we are privileged to have an outlet that so easily connects us to our past, so that, in some way, we don’t ever have to say goodbye. The very sport itself will keep us connected to our youth, so that we won't ever have to bemoan what we once were, because in that very moment we're actually what is.
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