When we first moved to Long Beach in the summer of 2011, and were just getting to know the area, we made the short drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to Huntington Beach. It was a sunny afternoon of strolling the pier, hot-stepping the sand and shopping the surf stores along Main Street. The most indelible moment came when we stumbled upon an impromptu jam session on the beach, more than a dozen strangers just banging away on bongos, the perfect soundtrack for a summer Sunday at sundown.
One of the shops we went into that day, Rip Curl, had a sign in the window explaining its brand ethos: Live The Search. Over the past six years, while trying to find our own way in southern California, my wife Danny and I tease each other about living the search. Do we have any plans this weekend? What are you going to do between school drop-off and the grocery store? Which coffee shop are you working in today? Not sure. Just gonna live the search.
So I laughed when I saw the above card, hand-drawn by Danny, among my birthday present bounty last month. Inside was a certificate for a private surf lesson in San Clemente, two hours of one-on-one instruction from a gentleman named Josiah, who sported a massive tattoo of a cresting wave on his torso. He was living the search, and I was going to join him.
It went about as well as expected, which is to say I whiffed every wave, sucked down several liters of saltwater and rubbed my torso so raw I had to shower backwards for the next three days. (On the bright side, I finally figured out why they call it a rash guard.)
It was a representative way to celebrate 38, a combination of the adventures I’ll continue to seek and the realistic limitations of my physical abilities as I approach 40. And it was really freaking fun. Can’t wait to go out again.
My wife got the idea for that gift after watching me devour a surfing book while away on vacation. Here’s a note on that, plus other things I’ve been enjoying lately:
• Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. I’m late to the game on this 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir by William Finnegan, which chronicles the magazine writer’s life and obsession with riding waves. It’s a deep dive into surfing culture, told largely through the lens of Finnegan’s travels across the country and throughout the world, in search of the perfect break. As a non-surfer, I enjoyed the education on the lifestyle I often encounter out here but never fully grasped. Thanks to this book and Finnegan’s poetic and anecdotal descriptions of his experiences, I have a better understanding.
• Chemex Glass Coffee Maker + Pour-Over Kettle: It’s hard to glug down a K-cup at home when you’re used to delicious pour-overs from local coffee shops the majority of the time. So for weekend mornings when I’m not on the go—and especially late Sunday nights editing this Monday monstrosity—I can now turn to my very own Chemex. I like taking the time to make it right, and I find the concentric pour to be kind of calming. And with the right beans—I prefer these—the end product is vibrant and warming.
• Linksoul Lounge Shorts: I picked up a pair of the black ones before a recent vacation, and proceeded to wear them for seven straight days. My wife picked up on my unoriginality and gave me the navy pair so I could diversify. The soft lining inside the shorts ups the comfort level, and the linen texture raises the style above any other lounge/workout short I’ve worn. They’re so versatile I’ve worn them playing tennis, on bike rides, to an all-day beach cornhole tournament and with an untucked polo on a super low-key date night. My third pair are being shipped as we speak. If you see me in the next calendar year, chances are good I’ll be wearing these.
• Beachwood Blendery: Long Beach has a lot to be proud of on the craft beer scene, and this might be the crown jewel. This small tasting room is an offshoot of Beachwood Brewing, and it focuses on making barrel-aged sour beers in the large warehouse adjacent to the facility. I’ve been a few times, and each visit I proclaim something new on tap as the best beer I ever tasted. The beers are fruity, fizzy and created using a lambic-like process that I wish I understood better. I could do PR for this place, I like it so much. (And with the Blendery T-shirt I now proudly sport, I’m more than halfway there.)