They can't even hear nice.
PREFACE - Part one
I come down to the ocean. I know I'm getting chemo the following day, But I felt strong enough to paddle out, My legs and feet were slammed with the heaviness and electric-razor blade sharpness of nerve-ending splinters, So my walk was unsteady, and I was woozy.
But it was a California Day, Clear blue skies and the waves chest to head-high and some fun down the line peelers. The crowd was plucked out with clueless assortments, But I feel I only have enough time to fight the cancer within me, not the cancer outside of me.
But I'm here. Ever since I was six I knew I belonged in California and wanted to surf. And this was a life I lived and sacrificed for andthat passion emerged into a betterr and more committed life. It's not an activity, More than a lifestyle. I think it's true, the first twenty years you find out that youre interested, then you really start surfing. Most just get to the surf-class-take-a picture-of-me-by-the-beach-this-is how-we-lived-before-our-company-transfered-us-back-to-Ohio.
Avoid the cold
Avoid the sun,
But those are rules who don't have a stoke in their heart for a wave that opens out to a new view. This place will save me, Pat Farley, Wayne Kenney, Terry Arnaud, Antonio Drexell, Gary Kammerer, Al Baggett Hal, Craig, and Shannon Stanger, John Stone and Reilly Stone, Al Reilly, David Than Bischoff, Thomas Bischoff , the late Johnny RIce, John Mel, so many, so many and how many others brougfht the depth of what surfing can do to a life, strength, friendship, loyalty, holding your ground, backing your friends...it made me a better friend, man, writer, fighter, and performer,
This, no matter how bad it might be for others.
This was going to heal me.
Northing would change that belief. I suited up with booties and gloves without even looking at the surf.
I had to go out to get strong to beat cancer. It can only hit me with side effects. I have to do a full-frontal.
The strapping great guy Thomas Bischoff carried by board down the beach. I knew I couldn't' carry the board down the moss-covered steps. My feet just didn't clamp down right, and I had slighty circling gust of vertigo swirling at different speeds in my head.
I have to come down here no matter how weak I am. I've lost ten pounds in two weeks, I have a persistent cough. More intense neuropathy in hands in feet, Sores on my lips. Cold aches in reaction to cold temperature.
I know when to be humble, and accept the help of others, and know how it strengthens us both.
He laid my board down and I started to cvry sads I waxed it and warble, :Thank you."
I Paddle Out
I wonder if I'll have the strength to stand up on the board and do my balance. Beofre I canceled my gym membership (to avoid getting colds) I worked on balance drills and lower leg strength to fight my never issues--and it helped.
I snagged the firsyt smaller wave, and stood up quickly, and was right in the pocket. Down the line a girl on a foam board sees me on the wave and drops in front of me.
I say, "That's right, see someone on a wave but drop in front of them and burn them anyway and run the wave, right."
She kicks out.
I finish the wave, jazzed I was able to spring up, I don't bother getting into with the woman on her foam board.
I say to myself, "There is no room for you on my game board."
She and others like her, I didn;t want top see or acknowledge, they were like cancer cells to me, mutations without a soul, just things that consumed but brought nothing else.
The I see Hal Stanger in a argument with a group of wome, one I recognize, and dump chick that dresses skimp and shows you waht you don;t want to see, but she thinks it makes her attractive--she isn;' breaking ther glass ceiling to open new fields for, she is falling through the floor on other people. Hell, if she got breast implants they's be sagging ones.
One the the o0men starts threatening Hal with getting her boyfriend--even though her boyfriend didn;t burn Hal, she did. Then she swqears and splashes him
The splash set me off. Enraged me beyond what I wanted out there.
I paddled over and shouted, "Hey you don't splash a guy likie that."
SHe flips me off. "How long have you been surfing here and this is how you treat people, fuck you! You piece of shit. You don;t splash that guy, I bet your boyfriend has to wear a condom so he doesn't get freezer burn.".
THE STOKE OF CAN'T HEAR NIce: Part Three
After the useless confrontation, I was removed from the connection that brought me there--the cancer cells were drawing me away from the overwhelming moment of being out in the ocean on a beautiful day and knowing some crisp well-formed sets were going to come through and I was all a part of it, making my brushtroke in the painting instesad of admiring the scenary, I was making scnerary, becoming scensary, trying to draw all this world I loved into m=e so I had a force beide myself that would give me that extra edge fighting cancer that most people don;t have.
Ileaned over on my board, rested my elbows, inhaled deeply, felt the waves, and breathed deeper, "Come back top this, come back to this." I whispered. "I need this. Get back to this, to why I've always wanted to be here."
So I sit outside and score a perfect head high wave, I'mup quickly, cutting high to get in trim to m,ake the section and I'm screaming in a nicer pocket.
A guy on a foam board in right in the way, not even making an attempt to move--probably jealous.
If I wasn't hampered my chemo's heavy legs, I might have tried to cvut in front of him, but the foam of the wave was rolling over the side of my board I knew I'd vcollide into him. I didn’t want to hurt him.
So I tumble. Do the underwater rag doll. Surface and simply say, "You okay, it's all right everyone gets caught inside once in awhile.
This guy, a man in hi late thirties said, "Are you saying I was in your way?"
"Well, you were."
"You could have cuter back and gone around me."
"I would have risked hurting you." He stares at me and I laugh. "Wow. I'm not yelling at you. I'm being nice and you can’t even hear nice. What is wrong with you. Suffice it to say,' All you had to say was, 'I'm sorry.' But you can say everything except those two words. I was being nice and you can't hear nice!" I started laughing. What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you?"
I paddle back out. But I'm not mad. I'm laughing at people who can’t hear nice. Has it gotten that bad? Some clowns who can never admit they're wrong. Hilarious. What miserable lives they must live.
I breath the air, feel the sun, I see the sets. The goons on too far inside and I know the wave is coming but I have to start paddling to my left. I'm wearing rubber gloves so I pet myself through the water--gloves can rip out your shoulder.
“Stay easy, pet the wave,” I said, stroking.
And I catch it right at the peak and no one can claim it because no one else is in the concept on my wavelength.
I shoot up high, I hear Hal Stanger sharply whistle. Someone say, “Go Fred.” And I trim then cut back and turn up high was the wave pitches and Imake the connection and drop into the next section and maintain y balance. I see Wayne paddling out, clearly surprised I had it in me to make the move and please and I shout, “Hey! And raise my fist.”
And take all of it for what it’s worth.
And today with that stoke and being able to stand and being there and weak and legs wobbly and staggering and smiling and laughing at those who can’t hear nice I feel all of this, my friends, our surfing, the waves, Santa Cruz, my surf spot, doing stand-up during chemo was elevating me into another world, and tat this moment I deeply felt, humbling and cautious, but felt it like a resolve, even though I had a long trail ahead of me.
In the car, I cranked up Charlie Musslewhite and he said, “The sweetest peaches don’t come off a tree.”
Yeah, he got that.
I got me some sweet, sweet peaches today.
Somehow I had already beaten cancer, the ultimate kook in the body of soul
Was I a guy suffering from cancer and going to die from it.
I felt I delivered a decisive punch that was going to lead me to a victory. Cancer was trying to choke hold me with its malignant double-knot, and today I untied that not, and wrapped my food tube around cancer, and now I was strangling it with a firm grip, merciless stare, as the Big C looked panicked, gasping, pleading with bugg-ed out puppy eyes, but nopw I’m its coldf killer powered by the stoke of a perfect surfing day against the world that can’t hear nice.
I can hear nice.
And it’s drop-to-m-knees overwhelming, and I hear it from you, and nod in gratitude.
I was a surfer today---and a damn good surfer,