*This is the first piece of writing, the first story, I ever wrote - a February surf with dear buds Rufty and the Florist at our favourite mid north coast getaway. And anyone interested to know, the first passage of Slippery I actually wrote was the Mexico surf trip.*
I stretch to life in my swag, covered in dew, reeking of grog sweats and Dutch oven warmth. Rufty’s foot has found a home too close to my face. The first hints of daybreak no match for the stench of tinea between my best mate’s toes. Tristan’s already up and frothing. Yeah, he slept like a baby that bastard – the ‘Florist’ - always smelling like roses. The mozzies would have left him in peace, no doubt. I jump to my feet, wipe sleep from my eyes, crack my neck, touch my toes, hold, raise back up, lift my palms to the heavens, breathe deeply. Yoga as it should be, fast, efficient, no sweat, no ‘omms’, no fancy tea, no chakra-praising-wank-offs. I’m good to go.
We’ve slept in the north Boomerang car park. It’s illegal, I guess, if you get caught. I’m sure you won’t do hard time in the slammer for sleeping the way man has for millions of years but fuck, some fat pricks in beige uniforms with knee-high white socks sure like to enforce some horseshit laws in the modern world. Over the fence, our favourite slice of north coast heaven is doing its thing, ruler edged lines of swell marching to shore. Boomers, you little bloody beauty. We rustle through our board-bags in the light of the sun moments before it arrives. The air filled with the unmistakable sounds of surfers; the hacksaw to-and-fro of waxing your board, smooshing of sunscreen hitting leathery skin, wetsuit zips pull closed. Ex-girlfriends have always hated these sounds…‘you’ll never compete with fiberglass and saltwater baby, I’m sorry’…I’m not sorry.
Surfers don’t walk to the water’s edge, they run, through the dunes like five year olds, barefoot grown men, lives defined by playing in the ocean, feet defined by a hatred for shoes. Boomerang Beach is empty, no people at least. The dawn surf always carries the risk of big boys in grey suits with dorsal fins searching the lineup for brekky. I suppress my very real fear of being ripped limb from limb. Ya gotta die somehow hey? May as well make it interesting. We run to the very north corner of the beach, jump in the rip leading out to the lineup. The sun winks hello beneath a lone cloud on the horizon. Boomerang’s north headland is spectacular, stretching 500m out to sea. A wind-swept, semi-tropical rainforest stands atop rugged sun-drenched rocks, sloping down sharply to the beyond-blue water. No river mouths for miles north and south, sand so fine and white, the ocean floor sparkles crystal, aqua gold. There is an A-frame peak with rights running back into the headland, lefts running away down the beach. Take your pick, you can’t go wrong. Boomerang is ours. This mid February morning is breathless, sheet glass until the nor-easter rocks up sooner or later. Don’t waste any time.
I squint through the early morning sun’s glare, grab my moment and stroke into the first wave of the session. Eight paddles through warm, summer water. I smile at Rufty giving me the obligatory ‘Yeeeewhhh’ metres away as I push to my feet and drop down this fluid moment of Tasman Sea bliss. I catch a glimpse of the headland covered in morning sun and twist my chest up the wave, eyeing my sweet spot, driving my back foot through the wave’s shoulder and feeling weightless as the top turn unwinds. Fuck surfing’s good. I paddle back out to see Tristan and Rufty attacking the next two waves with veteran grace. Bottom turning in the wave’s shadows, flying up the face, carving top turns, leaving spray hanging over the sun’s rays as they descend once more into the wave’s early morning shadow.
We ride the Boomerang playground for four hours straight. The beach slowly fills, the wind starts to blow, our stomachs begin growling. ‘Next one in’. While a surfer runs to the sea, there's always hesitation to leave. Taking those awkward last steps through corrugated sand trenches in ankle deep water, there's a primal drive; never turn your back on the ocean. Unzip your wetsuit, wipe the salt from your eyes and face the waves a final time. We rest a moment, boards under our arms, sun in our eyes, salt water drips from our calves and leaves dots in the sand like Aboriginal artworks. Without the ocean we probably would never see each other, perhaps not even be friends, but here we stand in the summer glow of Pacific Palms’ beauty and know without speaking that it’s damn good to be alive.
Liam Carroll is the author of Slippery, a story set in Southeast Asia about capitalism on steroids, it makes the world of Gordon Gecko look positively gentlemanly, and Sweet Dreams of Fanta, a nostalgic romp in time back to the Sydney of 1988, seen through the eyes of a freckly, moon-faced, seven year old Fanta addict and devoted Balmain Tigers lover.