Even before I started surfing, I had always wanted to experience a nighttime surf sesh. This was mostly because of that really cool surf scene at night in “Soul Surfer.” (Thanks, Bethany Hamilton.) So, when New Year’s Eve rolled around, with a full moon and still no solid plans, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. In fact, it was to be a supermoon, which is much fancier than a regular moon. The trick was convincing my mother to let Sloane, my youngest sister, to come with me. I could already picture her face. She is worried enough when we go surfing in the daytime. Now we would be surfing in the middle of the night, with no one around, and have to deal with drunkards on the way home.
“Okay fine…” She grudgingly agreed after much persistence. “But you have to promise me Sloane won’t drown or get eaten by a shark!” And with one last exasperated sigh from my mother, off we were. I bought a waterproof watch so we would be able to know what time it was in the water. Oddly, people tried to persuade us out of our plans twice within the scope of the night. When we got to the register at Winco, the lady who checked us out sent us with a warning: “beware of sharks that come out during a full moon.” I have no idea how she knew this, but we were already aware of this truth.
The second attempt came from a sheriff who pulled up on us in the parking lot while we were unloading our boards. Immediately, I started wondering if we were even allowed to surf at this ungodly hour. (I’d be pretty flustered if there were such a law, but with California, ya never know…)
“Good evening!” He called from his window. “Ya’ll planning on doing some surfing?”
“Are all of you eighteen or older?”
“Yes sir.” I replied dishonestly, excluding Sloane from the age census.
“Okay, well I just wanted to let you know that it’s dangerous to be surfing this late… No one does it…” He waited for our reply, but continued, “There was a shark attack earlier today at Drakes Estero…” We still didn’t care. “Will one of you be standing on the beach… Ya know? Just in case?”
“Uh, no sir.”
He finally realized he was beating a dead horse, so he wished us a safe night and was on his way. Although, I admit it was comforting to know that the first responders knew we were here and what we were doing. After we were done warming our suits on the dash, we headed down the stairs to the beach. I popped open the champagne and since we couldn’t bring it into the ocean, we sat on the beach and drank it. We had our “Cook’s” celebration early, which included a classic rock dance party featuring Men at Work and Eagles.
The whole time though we kept wondering about an odd object about a football field away, and even with our eyes adjusting to the darkness, we could not tell what this thing was… At first, Sloane thought it might be a person walking, but it was too short. Or maybe it was just a reflection of something, and the ocean’s motion was the reason that we believed it to be alive. . . I couldn’t see it well because I could only find one contact lens, so I just let Sloane do the hypothesizing.
“Why don’t we go check it out?” I suggested, honestly just wanting to be able to see what she could.
“That is a horrible idea.” Sloane said. “Next thing we know, we’re in someone’s basement?” She scoffed, but we went anyway. At 50 yards, we still couldn’t make it out, and at 20 yards, we could see it was perfectly round, but we really could not tell exactly what this object was until we were close enough to touch it. “A dinosaur egg? A UFO?,” we X-Files fans guessed. The supernatural object lay on the shore with the water just barely lapping it.
“Oh. It’s just a buoy.” Sloane said. “Well, that was super anticlimactic.”
I really wanted to meet an alien…
We were no longer spooked, so we hit the waves. With the moon much higher in the sky now, and the clouds blocking it with their passing, it was hard to see much of anything… But we had come to surf, and we made the decision -against all odds- to follow through on that promise, and to set the foundation of the new year on adventure and friendship. I dove through the icy water, with Sloane close behind, and paddled to the lineup. Oh, it was gorgeous, wonderful, and eerie all at the same time. I saw shadows rise and fall on the dark horizon -these were the waves. Their presence in the ocean felt different at night. It was strange being the only people in the ocean’s coastline for miles and miles. It really seemed we were in a different dimension. It was like we were still in the world as we knew it, but only we existed. We existed in shadows and silhouettes, and I felt closer to surfing than ever before. I could have lived on the edge of 2017 and 2018 forever -if only I could see better. Sloane was having enough trouble, and I only had half of my vision. However, my hearing was just fine, so when I heard Sloane’s high-pitched scream, I was immediately ripped from my shadowy realm.
“SLOANE!?” I screamed.
“Oh God, dear God no…” I paddled towards shore and saw her silhouette moving on her board.
“Are you O.K.?”
“Yeah! It was a scream of joy!”
“Damnit Sloane. No screams of joy allowed!”
She laughed, and continued her joy screams internally.
We continued in our midnight session with party waves, until I lost the last 50% of my vision. My contact fell out but luckily, I had caught it. I suck at putting contacts in normally, so my situation was not ideal. I sat on my board, the waves rocking it, and by dim moonlight, attempted to regain my sight. It was futile however, and I heard Sloane yell that I was drifting too close to a rock graveyard. I flung my contact into the water and for the next five minutes, relied on Sloane yelling “WAVE!” which answered my hypothetical question of whether or not blind people can surf… They can’t.
I paddled back to shore, bummed we didn’t make it to 12 a.m., but relieved to have my glasses. My vision was restored, along with a vision of how the new year would look for me. 2018 arrived and I thanked God for every beautiful soul he has placed so graciously into my life. I prayed to act on the fruits on the spirit in these relationships. This year, I will make the conscious decision to only pursue relationships that also fight for my spiritual and mental growth. I am thankful to have surfed in the shadows, and to have no fear, because “In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me.”