In California, surfing is not just part of a lifestyle. It’s the foot, arm, chakra. DNA and heartbeat that pulses like the freezing ripples of a Pacific “set”.
From Dawn to Sunset at Huntington Beach, there´s a constant flow of surfers in and out of the water.
Californians were born with a surf board underneath one arm and leave home already in a wetsuit. A kind of smart/casual California “attire”.
No ethnicity, age or physical condition seems to keep anyone ashore. In front of me, a man, missing one leg, plunged into the sea for a bodyboard session. He returned later for a rest on his wheelchair, soaking up the sun while perusing his morning newspaper. “We need to make every single thing accessible to every person with a disability” said Stevie Wonder. Once in the foaming shore break, waves are pretty much accessible to all. Gliding in the roiling sea, anyone escapes the restrictions of gravity, stereotypes and discrimination. When offshore, “impossible” loses the “im.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we would apply the same concept ashore?
At sunset, two “hang-loose” co-workers laid their equipment a few meters away from me. While donning their wet suits and warming up, I could overhear their “stoked” conversation regarding the afternoon´s successful meeting. If the rest of the world surfed after work, I believe stress and depression would be vanished.
Across the street, Cecília runs a local “Havaiana´s” store. She is from Brazil but her parents are Portuguese, from Minho, in the north of Portugal. Since her arrival in 2007, her heart labeled California as “home sweet home” and Laguna Beach is her beautiful place of residence.
With an amicable range of interpersonal sales and marketing skills, she highlights episodes in her life’s journey while cajoling me to try the whole new collection of Havaianas. “These will look fantastic on you, Maria!” and, in fact, they did. I cheerfully departed her shop in a golden brown pair of wedges which, as Cecilia merrily chirped, “…perfectly matched my tanned skin tone.”
To finish the day, beers and burritos at one of the multiple cafes, rooftops or varandas along the boulevard. There´s no way one goes to California without tasting burritos, they are a “unifying part of the Californian experience – black, Asian, gay, poor, rich, or Ke$ha” no one misses the chance of “dropping” into a burrito.
Oh, have I told you how marvelously freezing it is to dive into the Pacific Ocean? Such a feeling of soul cleanliness at the same time your arteries turn into stalactites. “You look like an iceberg” said Cora, the British girl who accompanied me on that beach day. By evaluating her red lobster skin tone, due to a long sun exposure without sunscreen, I can easily tell I´ll reach 60 without osteoporosis than her without skin cancer. She looked at me terrified when I putted sunscreen for the 3rd time. Oh well, life choices.
Maria Bonifácio Lopes