It's about life - not "lifestyle"
Young Bodies, Old Souls
|I write to you as a 20 year old raised on the beaches of Long Island. Although I fall directly in the middle of what you call a "squashtail thruster demographic group", I feel an affinity toward the ideals held by you and your website. After reading letters from Melinda Morey and our lone U.K. friend, I felt compelled to write to you.
My family spend their summers on the beach, and it is in my earliest memories that I recall being thrown into the surf and learning how to put my face in the water, point my hands in the stream-line position, and let the water take me. I am the youngest of six children, and naturally I always wanted to do what my older brothers did. My brother Timmy (third of the six) played on bodyboards for a bit, but realized it was not for him. So, naturally, it wasn't for me, either. I followed his example and stuck to the purity of bodysurfing.
Some of my most prized memories are of Septembers during my grade school and high school years, when the water was empty and warm, and the surf was firing because of the impending hurricane season. There were no crowds or little kids to avoid while riding. It was just Timmy, his best friend (and psuedo brother) Seamus, and me. Each of us were seperated by 50 yards, but we were all enjoying the same waves with the same late summer sun setting on our backs as we skimmed across waves. All of my siblings are very close, but Timmy and I share a special bond. Although we are seperated by six and a half years, the connection is unspoken and undeniable, and I'm sure that it is at least partially because of our shared love for bodysurfing.
The September of 2000, my senior year in high school, Timmy and Seamus drove cross country and lived in Pacific Beach, San Diego. They lived there for a year and had access to surf all year round while I was dealing with a winter in the Northeast. Needless to say, the practice did them good and they picked up some new skills.
The follwing summer I landed my dream job as a lifeguard at Jones Beach. I was getting paid to do what I love, and talk about a group of people that foster the beach lifestyle. It was cool to see so many people who appreciated a good bodysurfer in a small area. I even picked up some surfing and ocean kayaking, which is neat. And like Melinda had expressed in her commentary on bodysurfing, the intimacy with the water that I had obtained through the years made me that much more comfortable while on the job.
Whenever I would talk to my brother, we would always talk about the breaks in San Diego like the Wedge and other beaches that were ideal [Editors note: Wedge is actually in Orange County]. Timmy returned to the East Coast in November of 2001 while I was at college, and it was only a matter of months before we could be in the water together. I was able to see these new things that he had come to fancy called Wave Blades (developed by Bob Davis, a native Long Islander that transplanted to the Wrong Coast). They are these neat ski like things that go on his hands that allow him to plane across the water a lot easier. They are the best hand devices that I have seen, but I stick to my Vipers alone. Our first day out together in over a year was in late May. The waves were overhead and we were the only two in the lineup of about 15-20 surfers. We were right in there with the standers competing for waves (of course we would usually have to concede or take a skeg in the back of the head). It felt like we hadn't skipped a beat.
So now, as I sit in my dorm room in Boston, looking contemptuously at the 8 inches of snow on the ground, I long more than ever for those sessions after school in September that are now replaced with early classes and no beach in sight. There is hope for us, though. My brother told me about your site as we plan a trip to the Northwest coast of Puerto Rico. Salvation can be found for us on some sandy beaches. We will escape our wintery sentence. We will try to take some pictures and add to the slim archive of our brethern. I know it is not the goal to be noticed, but I feel like if people are educated then they will be able to appreciate the art form.
-Liam and Timmy Kelly
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Words (C) Liam Kelly.