Almost five years ago my sister and I came to visit California for the first time. After my parents dropped the "We're moving 3,000 miles away" bomb, I felt a twinge of excitement, but also skepticism. My sister was just plain mad; she was graduating high school and would have to leave her friends behind. There was, however, one thing that convinced us both that San Diego was a perfectly acceptable place to move: Surfers.
Picture this: It was mid-January; we had left a freezing cold small town where at the moment everyone was wearing at least three layers; a place where you could count the number of "hot" guys on one hand...make that one finger. Six hours later, we landed in a place that felt a million degrees warmer and the guys were a million times hotter. I have never seen so many of them (San Diego is one of the few cities that statistically has more men than women) and I was instantly mesmerized by the flocks of surfers bobbing in the waves like birds (in fact, from a distance I thought they were birds— I swear that's why I was staring).
There is a certain (top secret) street where all the surfers emerge from the beach and wrap towels around their waists so they can change out of their wetsuits. Let's just call this place Heaven. When we discovered Heaven, Eva started giggling and squealing uncontrollably and I was grinning so hard my cheeks hurt (this signature grin is an involuntary reaction I have had around boys since I was three years old...I don't even try to hide it from Tommie who can see it overtaking my face from a mile away).
But those darn surfers are the most elusive species I have ever seen. Of all the guys wandering the streets of San Diego and out at the bars at night, we never ran into a true surfer and they certainly weren't going to talk to us on the beach when they had a wave to catch. I began to think they all lived in some secret underwater world...emerging from the waves in early morning and diving back under at night like mysterious gods of the sea. We tried to get close to them in their natural habitat...I took lessons once with my Dad where I quickly mastered the wipe-out; and Eva and I rented surf boards in Pacific Beach so we could legally enter the "surf zone." I rode the board in on my stomach while Eva simply floated there with her arms folded on the top of the board, all googley-eyed, saying, "I love surfing." I had pictured guys circling around us in the water like hungry sharks, but they stayed at least 20-feet away making sure we didn't get in their way.