There’s No Place Like Home
I’ve visited Hawaii every December since I was 17.
I’ve slept under a different roof each year, and every season opened my eyes to something new. I stayed at the old Hurley house at Log Cabins with Yadin Nicol and I learned how to party. (Pre-family Yadin was a great teacher). I stayed at the DVS house on the beach at Pipeline with Cory Lopez and I learned not to be so f–king scared. (“When Pipe is big, you paddle out. No matter what”.) I stayed at a friend of a friend’s at Waimea and I learned that, occasionally, you can blindly rely on the kindness of strangers. (And how very lucky I was in general — Bruce Irons won the Eddie while I was there. The view of the bay from their backyard? Outrageous.)
Throughout those trips to Hawaii and the experiences they spawned, I’ve been helplessly scared, hopelessly saddened, wildly excited and weirdly inspired. I’ve paddled out to Pipe with Andy Irons and surfed Waimea Shorebreak with Cory Lopez. I’ve caddied for Gabe Kling at 100-foot Sunset. Watched Malik Joyeux die at Pipeline and Michel Bourez nearly drown at Backdoor exactly two years later. I’ve been yelled at in the yard of the Volcom house (A mix-up, fortunately, but a terrifying encounter with Eddie Rothman nonetheless.) I’ve been sent in from the lineup at Pipe (totally my fault), packed the biggest barrel of my life at Off-The-Wall and chugged a beer out of CJ Hobgood’s Sunset Cup trophy at a party after his win. I love the North Shore. But not in a romantic sort of way.
Unlike any other place where I’ve spent ample time, I’ve never felt comfortable in Hawaii. And that’s why I fidgeted when we settled on a theme for this issue months before the North Shore season even started — that theme being Hawaii as home away from home. Home equals comfort, I said, and to me Hawaii is everything but. Hawaii means constant butterflies and frantic nerves, and what sort of home makes you feel that way? What sort of home outside Syria forces you to live in constant fear? As online editor Brendan Buckley puts it in “Accidently Tough” on Pg. 24, “There’s something intangible — but very alive — about the place. It quakes with testosterone. With love and with fear, both of them disguised as anger.” Of course this isn’t the way folks from Ohio with a timeshare in Waikiki describe Hawaii to their relatives. But they don’t know what we know, see what we see and feel what we feel. Ours is a separate reality — one with more lickings and fewer leis. In Hawaii, the old adage “Only a surfer knows the feeling” couldn’t be truer.
Then I gave it more thought.
Before boarding an airplane this year, I changed my mind about what makes a home a home. A home isn’t just about comfort and familiarity. It’s more than a warm bed, a soft couch and a fridge stocked with cold beer. It’s a place where you deal with adversity and learn real shit. A place where you create lifelong memories in shades of both rose and coal. A place that changes the way you see the world, and Hawaii is all of that. It shaped my life as a surfer and now, as an editor at SURFING. I know that I wouldn’t be here without Hawaii, and I gloomily wonder what our industry would be like without this miraculous speck in the Pacific.
Hawaii is the pit of surfing’s humble universe. It’s the Washington, D.C. — where law is conceived and responsibility is delegated — while at the same time being the New York City, where things happen that ripple through the rest of the world. It’s the classroom where you learn. Most importantly, it’s where you grow. And that’s exactly what makes it (a second) home. —Zander Morton