‘The Golden State’...this sprawling state is named that for multiple reasons, the most obvious being the Gold Rush, but once you get here there are so many other reasons one never thought of. The sunshine, golden opportunities, and the amount of gold it costs to live here. Coming from 'The Buckeye State' myself that nickname leaves very little room for interpretation. Since moving out here I have not only reunited with my other Midwestern friends, but I have made a few more…the most notable crew being a bunch of guys from various places in Ohio who often argue about whether Cincinnati is better then Columbus.
I have taken up surfing with this lot. Every Sunday a few of us sputter out of the city in Justin's dying car with our boards strapped to the roof. The conversation usually lulls as the ocean comes into view, and the white roaring waves always strike a cord of fear in me. We wiggle into our wetsuits while the gravel on the parking lot sticks to our bare feet. I struggle to hang onto the massive board as we stroll down the beach and watch the other black figures bob in the water waiting for the perfect wave. We paddle out and join the crowd watching the show. As I balance on my board, and bob in the waves I can't shake the feeling that I'm pretending. I imagine opening my mouth to speak and another language coming out, and then being discovered as a foreigner. I wonder if I am a poser, just a wannabe surfer; but then I remember as a small child curled up in my bed in suburban Ohio staring at newspaper cut-outs of blondes riding along curling waves, skimming their hands over the water's iridescent blue surface. I remember seeing a real life surfer for the first time here, in California, when I was fifteen, and being captivated. It seemed impossible then, too foreign, scary, and impossible to do in Ohio...but that day I knew that I wanted to live in this Golden State someday, and live the California dream surfing on those glimmering waves. Lucky for me, there are a bunch of Ohioans who feel the same way.