Crude Oil Break


Ripples disrupted the picturesque, glassy water that I skimmed across as I worked my way back out beyond the break. Around me, the sky stood still, apart from the far off sherbet colored clouds gliding across the horizon.

- Oliver Ambros

Peace, serenity, stillness: Three qualities rarely found throughout our busy, unpredictable days. For the four of us, this jaunt up the coast of our home in California meant much more than the surf along the way. To us, it served as a moment for reflection without unwarranted distractions and a chance to be with our long time friends without thinking about where the ambiguities of our future selves might take us.

I dove under oncoming white wash, snapping my train of thought. It was late evening, around the time that the birds calling above give way to the crickets hopping around the doorstep of our tent. My arms tingled - jello - a symptom of what can only be described as yet another successful session out in the water. Wave after wave, the pickings appeared endlessly, while the competition sat miles away amongst other breaking waves.

The days had been bound into one continuous novel that told a tale of the ocean, passion, and robbery. Valuables gone, priceless moments gained, the simple 72 hours behind us orated both the inevitable negatives that exist and the reliable antidote that is surf.

Just 8 hours ago, I was sprinting down Santa Clara Avenue, a puddle of water at my tail while my wetsuit squeaked along. During a satisfactory sunrise surf working the local break, our car had been stolen. As my friend contacted the police, I tracked the car to a few blocks away. Amped up on adrenaline, a cold water head rush, and the threat of losing my digital set of eyes, I ran the three blocks from the break in what felt like 30 seconds. Parked far too neatly for a car that had been promptly taken right from under our noses, it sat in an ordinary parking spot, as if it had been there for hours.

The authorities ensued, fingerprinting and questioning us about the missing valuables - wallets, cameras, etc - while the point break rolled in sets down the sunny, rocky beach below.

After an hour of standard police procedures, our itch became unbearable as surfers arrived to a previously empty break. Numerous police questions later, it came time to decide our course of action. Hurting from the stolen items, we briefly questioned driving back to our campsite and taking the day off from C St. at our private break. Our minds, however, quickly cleared up as we stared straight ahead, the sensory overload of crashing waves and rolling tubes beginning to take effect. It seemed only one scenario existed in our minds: surf it off.

Surf as a foe. Surf as a friend. Surf as an antidote. No matter the relation, to surf is to give in to a greater, uncontrollable reality. Just as we lacked control in our car theft, so too did we lack demand in the water. It wouldn’t be any other way. It can’t be any other way, making it that much more of a humble sanctity.

This novel of a trip came unexpectedly. A simple, relaxing, worry-free gallant across our home state’s breaking coasts turned sour in an instant. Yet we realized its aurora as a journey had only then begun.

As the sun turned from its glowing, deity-like posture to a mere sliver across the now indigo and purple sky, a new set came in. “Holy right!” I shouted, as my friend worked into position and took it towards our campsite. Dinner and beers marked on the beach by the glow of our campfire awaited his waterlogged body.

Now, truly alone in the break, the power of my surroundings grew ever more.

Four surfers. Seventy-two hours. One robbery. One empty point break. In the grand scheme of unpredictable surf trips, something as memorable is hard to find. Though material valuables were lost, the empty break, glassy water, and shoreline dances inspired a final night of laughter and reflection. After all, in twenty years, crashing problems eventually all turn to ripples across an otherwise glassy base.

It was my turn then, as a bump in the dimly lit dusk air began to grow some 100 feet in front of me.

Make it a long one, I thought to myself, as I began to paddle myself into proper position.

Its stature looked good, long, and thick. Turning around, I shook my gelatine-like arms into position and mustered up a final push right, until… Levitation.

Oliver Ambros