The pier is packed. Spectators six deep watch the finals of the Vans US Open of Surfing below. I wedge myself into the crowd trying to get a glimpse of the last heat. One of the surfers bobs in and out of my view, but I can’t stand on my tiptoes long enough to see anything more. Holding my phone high above my head I snap a few photos of the masses on the beach, specks of brilliant color all the way to the shoreline.
I hadn’t followed the contest at all this year or the last few years for that matter. And I didn’t plan to be here today. But it’s a beautiful southern California Sunday and I live just a few blocks away. If I’m totally honest, it was a good excuse to take a break from my writing. I wander to the north side of the pier. The crowd below is different on this side, families picnicking, swimmers and sunbathers. Reminds me of the days when my kids were small and we spent long afternoons at the beach. These days I’m more likely to walk along the shore. Every now and then I lay in the sun reading a book. The cheers from the south side get my attention. I run over and catch the end of the replay on the big screen just as the surfer shoots through the pier. Impressive. Again the crowd roars.
On the shore, everyone is on their feet. Years ago I would have been standing among them. I lived with a surfer then and the contest was a routine part of summer. Riding our bikes along the beach path through the early morning mist we arrived long before the crowds. We’d plant our umbrella, spread out our towels and set up camp for the day. Then I’d go on a coffee run while he watched the first heat. Back then I knew all the players, the favorites and the local heroes.
I think about the ways in which I had adopted the interests of the men in my life over the years; football, baseball, surfing, cycling, soccer and golf. While I enjoy most competitive sports I became a bigger fan, maybe even a fake fan during those relationships. I committed to their favorite athlete or team. With them I rode the emotional rollercoaster, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I wanted to spend more time with them by watching games, matches, heats, series and championships. Hoping I was creating a lasting bond I suppose. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed it for the most part, but my motives felt so 1950. The way to a man’s heart was by liking what he liked. My heightened interest only lasted as long as the romance. Then I went on with my life as a fair weather fan.
A horn blasts, warning the surfers the heat is coming to an end. It’s hot and crowded so I make my way off the pier. I don’t miss participating in this scene. These days I am happy to watch the surfers as I power walk along the trail. I need only glance toward the ocean to see them, lots of them, dotted on the sparkling waves of Pacific Ocean.
Walking the few blocks home, I wonder if it’s time to get back in the game again, the dating game. I mean I’m definitely open to the idea of meeting someone even though I’m just watching for the sidelines. I have fun day dreaming about who Mr. Next might be, a basketball fan, or maybe cricket or rugby? Makes me laugh. It doesn’t matter though. I won’t feign interest in yet another sport or hobby. I’m more interested in being myself and participating with integrity and passion in the game of life. That’s the common ground I’m looking for in Mr. Next. Hey, if we’re on the same page, he could be Mr. Right.
In the meantime, I’m keeping my heart and mind open to the possibilities. I enjoy speculating and strategizing with my girlfriends about my next play. They think the odds are in my favor. But we all agree . . . for something to happen, I’ve got to get off the bench.
Enough sports references for you??
Stay tuned . . .