MES AMIES: I WRITE TO YOU
SURROUNDED BY AMERICAN FAST-FOOD WRAPPERS AND UNOPENED BILLS. I logged some grim freeway hours today and saw little of the daylight. No surfing. Now in the gutted quiet of day’s end I find my mind wandering again, to the east, across our country and an ocean. To better times. To stand-up barrels in France. To venison burgers in Scotland. To hot coffee served in large porcelain mugs by scarf-clad chéries with red noses, imbibed after surfing a lonely pointbreak in a hailstorm. To Portugal, where after endeavoring a craggy slab I wandered the peaceful evening and watched its people, all so old and well-fed, walking the cobblestone seaside streets. I can’t help but think back to these times as another Super Size meal is finished and trashed. As my television blinks on and I remember that the gas light in my truck is nagging. So I escape, to my European accommodation stocked with crates of eight-ounce Stella Artois, a house that smells of bacon and surf wax.
And the waves, the waves that front this idyllic Old World scene. All kinds of them. Little waves. Big ones. Peaky waves and walled. With capricious weather and tide fluctuations that keep one guessing, in much the same way the girls there keep one guessing.
I assume most of us, as surfers, spend time ruminating on foreign lands (and waters, and womens), on new backdrops and experiences, or memories from far-off travels past. But I must suspect this chemical-laced fast food includes a hallucinogen to inspire such daydreams, now that I’m deep under its influence. After one has sunk into a hometown flat spell and too much processed food, the comedown is steep and ugly, and it’s hard not to long for greener pastures. And for myself — for a lot of us here in this groovy Generation Y — Europe represents the greenest of the green, a modern surfer’s Eden. It is the filet of the world and is fast becoming our signature surf destination. It unlocks the inner Dionysus below humdrum daily routines. And Europe is just a pretty place to go surfing.
Perhaps we’re romantic, or perhaps we crave diversity of culture and landscape, or perhaps we have a hankering for the vino. It could be the vast sand dunes speckled with peaky surf; it might be that we just like French kissing. For whatever reason, Europe makes the young mind run wild, and we’ll be back as soon as the compass points east again. Till then, till then, only in the mind. —Travis Ferré