The Surfboard

It’s a small room. One with a bed, tv, and a couple dressers. Leaning in the corner, a surfboard. An item that seems peculiar to have when living in Washington State. But in California, I used it almost every day.

My mom lived in California. I remember she took my little sister and I to our first surfing camp. As I struggled to find my way in the waves, I could see my mom sitting in a beach chair on the shore. She had a book open on her lap, but we all knew she was sleeping under those shades.

My board is hard to miss as the top is covered in a blue pattern.

A blue that perfectly matches your Stadium High School sweatshirt, mom. You wore it almost every single night. Now, it rests peacefully in one of my dressers.

After a year and a half of not riding my board, the residual sand has turned into a dust.

The sandy dust reminds me of your hands after work. Some days you would come home with flour on your hands and covering your shirt. It’s almost like that flour became an accessory to your outfits. It showed you knew your way around a bakery better than anyone I know.

While the surfboard is a soft top, there are still hidden bumps and grooves along the top. Just like the top of your hands, mom. Day after day of dealing with hot ovens, constant hand washing, and all the different ingredients, your hands were always dry and cracked. No matter how much lotion you put on, and boy did you use a lot.

But you know what, mom? The longer I stare at my board, I am reminded of you and our time together.

As the board’s rounded curves meet at the top to make a soft point, it reminds me of Mt. Rainier. A special and symbolic place for you.

A place you went to around my age and rediscovered yourself. A place that made you feel so alive and free. I know how bad you wanted that feeling back.

Because just like the underside of the board, you had scars and scratches hidden underneath, too. You were never one to open up about the pain you were feeling. But, when you did open up, tears flooded the room, almost like drowning in the ocean itself.

Mom, we never had an easy relationship, did we? When I was a kid, you left my brothers and I. You were an empty memory that others filled in for me. You were gone for 10 years of my life. But, I don’t blame you for that. I used to. But not anymore.

Because my board came to me with those scars and scratches. It went through a lot without me there. It had a past before me and I had no idea what it went through. But I understood. I knew it was all part of being a surfboard. You’re going to hit rough waves.

But that’s why surfboards have leashes attached to them. It’s just like you and me, mom.

That leash allows me to explore and try to catch any wave. It allows me and my surfboard to drift off from each other, but never apart.

Even during our worst fights, I knew you had me and you knew I had you. I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it. During the years we drifted off and didn’t speak, I still felt you. I still feel you, mom.

That’s why I bought a long board instead of a shorty. With a long board, you get to enjoy the ride. It’s all about riding those waves in. When I catch that perfect wave and ride it all the way to shore, I feel alive and free.

The same feeling you got when climbing Mt. Rainier. You might have left this earth, but as long as that surfboard and leash are with me, I know you are too, mom.

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