The last time I had the best day of my life
In an old folder I uncovered a lost memoir of a day that I held as the best day of my life:
The Life and the Cycle:
The looming, inevitable force that comes and goes, without thought
It had been months since I last saw my friend. He picked me up and we headed west. We talk about the past, friends we knew, but we struggle to connect names and faces. We start walking away from the car. The gravel crunches as our sneakers kick the sunlight. The breeze rustles through my hair. I look out over flat, blue ocean water. The sand is smooth, untouched. A sea lion lay on the beach. It does not move. We don’t know what to do, so we take a picture and walk away.
Jagged earth stood like an obelisk guiding us to a violent force that pushes waves. We start to cross an open coral reef. Low tide exposes a plateau teeming with star fish who cement themselves to the ground until the water comes back. Shell fragments sit in glistening reservoirs. A haze made of ocean water fills the air. The waves are tremendous. The idea of surfing seems out of reach as the waves build and break into white headed monsters. 12,000 miles of pressure and force, created and perpetuated entirely by the earth and the wind. They crash and break. We moved towards them, leaping patches of coral spattered rocks. A herring casts a silhouette. It stands unabated by the waves, unaware of the might that may come to sweep it away.
I brought a small pipe and filled it with magic. We smoked to celebrate. We celebrate the moment. Neither of us had seen anything like this before. This was something new. A pale mist washes over my body. The salty sea air; it reminds me of the beach when I was a child, I’d waddle back to my mom after playing in the sand and try to eat cookies without getting sand in my mouth.. We walked and took pictures. His camera brings the world beneath our feet into focus. The rivers of water have changed now. Some patches are dryer some are wet, some are puddles, some are rivers. We cross where we can. Some of our paths are easier than the other’s but we find our way. The world keeps going. We started walking further. We reach a rock ledge,
“Think you’d want to get up there?” He asks.
“…yes I would.” I reply
We pull ourselves up the steps, gripping whatever rock we can. Stopping briefly to make sure we have made it. There is a gap; we don’t look down until after we’ve jumped it. We see a deep chasm that would swallow us whole.
“Well that would have-,“ I say.
“Yup.” He says without looking back. We keep going; stopping to take a picture of some surfers. The waves were bigger now. Four surfers ride the same wave; two fall immediately. He takes pictures as I play with rocks I have pulled out of the mountain,
“They just break off.” I say to myself. They crumble and shatter in my hands. These are soft rocks. I look around and see deep valleys torn away from the earth. It’s like climbing a stegosaurus. The ground is slippery, the algae leaves a slickness. We head to a rock crevice that looks like an opening to a cave.
“When does the tide come in?” I ask.
“I don’t know, we should probably head back”. I stare out at the end of the world.
We are not heroes. We have seen enough of the new to know that we should come back better prepared. Water and rope. We climb back taking a new path, leaping from rock to rock. We just don’t think about falling. We climb back up the stegosaurus’s back and we slide down the step, pawing and gripping the ground however we can. We walk back looking at the waves crash into rocks.
“Let’s get a beer.” He says.
“I like the sound of that”.
The car hums and shakes when he lets off the clutch. We’re sitting outside wondering what to say. We sit in awe and tip our beers at what wonders we have seen; what life felt like. We have little to say over fried calamari. The birds hop around the tables like waiters. We cruise to Santa Cruz down the 1, the only highway, the one we are on, going 55 with the windows down. We look right, we see the ocean and waves that look like corduroy. We look left and the grass is bleached a brighter green, apricots are picked and flung into blue buckets. We look up and see green moss that grows like hair. We drive going 80 down a steep highway 40 feet from the coast. We stop at a cliff to take a picture,
“I’d say it’s about half a football field down.” He claims.
“Yeah, that’s about right.” I agreed. We get back in the car. There is no noise. Up ahead a white shirted body lay contorted on the road, arms bent and twisted, speckles of blood dripping from her hands and knees. She moves and looks at me. The one in pink limping her way up the hill, her bike twisted behind her.
“Do you need an ambulance?” there are no words, “they need help.”
“Alright. Call 9-1-1.” I say while opening my door. I am out of the car now, walking in my borrowed sandals on a curved highway, with the waves crashing to my left. The girl in pink is bruised and shaky, the back of her helmet split open.
“Are you ok?” I ask, still no words, “You should really sit down if you just fell.” She sits, begrudgingly, trying to move herself closer to her friend. The one in white lies there, moving only her eyes. I see her arms are wrapped around her, bending in every direction.
“Can you move?” she looks at me, as if to say, what the fuck just happened.
“I think you just fell off your bike, are you ok?” I see her knees, flesh is missing, I can see the yellow fatty pieces covered in blood. She starts to sit up. A man in an orange vest appears,
“What happened?” He asks.
“Do you have a first aid kit?” Soon I am putting on rubber gloves and handling small packages of gauze, a boy comes to my side to help me.
“Put these on,” I hand him one glove “and unwrap that.” I hand him a box of gauze roll. He says nothing and obeys. I tear open packets of alcohol wipes and cover the woman in white’s knee,
“Hold these” I say.
“Is my face, ok?” she asks.
“Just a bruise,” I point to my head “This is what matters” She holds the wipes to her bloody knee caps. I see her fingers are split, the cuticle dripping bright red drops on the pavement. The girl in pink starts to cry, she can’t remember why.
“An ambulance is coming.” I look up to see road flares the man in the orange vest put down fizzling on the pavement. “You are going to be fine.”
There was a pipe in the road that day. No one knows where it came from. The pipe stuck out, the bikers swerved and mangled themselves going 25 miles an hour down hill. The cops want our statements. We wait and talk, the boy was going surfing. I shook his hand as we made it back to the cars. We drive away. We drive for an hour. Then we say goodbye. This was on a Thursday.