Newport Beach, California.
I was born about 700 feet from here. Obviously, I don’t remember that moment of my life, but I have so many other memories from this area. My Nonny and Poppy lived here. My Grandma and Grandpa and my parent’s boat still do. Some friends, too.
The first time I ever remember noticing the moon was on my Poppy’s shoulders in his backyard here. Every time I look at it now I still think of that night when I first saw the man in the moon; now I think the man in the moon is my Poppy. I love the moon.
I worked here for three summers during college, teaching little kids to surf. My boss was crazy. One time he screamed in my face and told me I wasn’t worth the money he was paying me because one of the camp counselor kids I was in charge of lost a surfboard. Then, I had to drive this 11 year old camper home. She was so sweet and told me she thought I didn’t deserve to be yelled at. I remember thinking she was so empathetic and mature for her age. Another time, on the last day of camp, my boss took us to a fancy Mexican restaurant and bought us shots of top shelf tequila to celebrate the end of camp. Then he left me with the bill.
It’s funny though, because when Scott and I came to surf at the same beach where the surf camp used to be, I could only think of this time fondly. I remember there were some kids from Las Vegas who were given the gift of surf camp for Christmas. They were some of the most stoked people I’d ever seen. They really appreciated the ocean because it was the first time they’d ever seen it. I remember carrying several foam surf boards on my head across 300 yards of sand just so I could prove I was as strong as the boy counselors. I remember driving my dad’s 1972 GMC Jimmy through Laguna at 5 a.m. so I could surf the river jetties in the dark before camp started. I remember surfing the foamies during the lunch break and bonding with my fellow counselors at The Big Belly Deli after work.
I have hundreds of memories from camp, and taking the boat out with my family, and pulling pranks with my sisters and cousins, and being at Nonny and Poppy’s house which felt like another home, and going to my Grandparent’s wedding, and to Nonny and Poppy’s funerals. All of these memories came from this area and they all came back to me this weekend when I paddled out at tower 68.
You can practically get hepatitis a, b, c, d and e, from surfing this close to the Santa Ana river mouth and the dog beach, but the waves were crappy and the weather was foggy, so it was, of course, worth the risk. Or at least, it was worth the memories.