Walking up to the cafe on Thursday morning the day before the Mavericks surf contest down the road at Pillar Point, remembering last night’s weather news about the buoys going off along the coast, watching the big surf, and I see a guy walking up the beach with half his board under each arm. “That’s not a good sign,” I say.
“I’m just glad I got to shore,” he says.
At the Judah Street break in the berm where I usually trudge up to Java Beach I turn. For a big surf day there are few surfers out. I watch the lone surfer out paddle for a big, fast-breaking wave. He gets up and comes down the face and then it is as if he is an unwary pedestrian on a street of tall white houses that have just toppled onto him, becoming huge white foam and dazzling mist.
In a few days will be the fourth anniversary of my father’s death. He would appreciate this: the broken board, the huge waves, the sunny morning with a chilly northeast wind.
I am a writer and also a teacher and helper of other writers. I worked for Salon.com for 14 years, first editing and then writing the advice column "Since You Asked." These days I write, and I teach and help other writers by using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, which is a group writing process that I am trained in by the founder of the method, poet and memoirist Pat Schneider.