I Never Learn

When I moved back to San Diego in September 2013, I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to do what I did during my previous stint in the area: get so comfortable that I stop doing things I love that might require some exertion. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to just settle into the beach/surf lifestyle and was instead going to venture north to the Sierras, head out to the desert, explore Mexico and even (GASP!) spend more time enjoying what L.A. and the big city had to offer.

By the time I left three years later I’d done exactly none of those things. There’s a reason some local friends called North County “The Bubble”: because we were all living in a Stepford-like bubble of perfection and life was really just too easy. It wasn’t quite laziness, exactly, just a case of living in such a great place that had so much—for me, the ocean and surfing in a perfect climate—that I loved. In hindsight, I regret not pushing myself to do more.

Fast forward to the present when I’ve been thinking more and more about spending the coming winter living aboard here in Annapolis. It’s a great place and I have a good bunch of friends, and I can live comfortably on my boat while saving a bunch of money that would be spent on rent. The one drawback to living in Annapolis is that I miss the ocean. Terribly. But that can be addressed, right?

Yes. And as with my second adult stint in San Diego (actually, my third; I was also there during my college years), I swore to myself that I was going to start making more of an effort and not just settle into life here in Naptown. I was going to make the drive to the Delmarva coast (about two and a half hours away) whenever I needed some ocean time; I was going to drive a bit farther to the Virginia Beach area (four-and-change hours) and the Outer Banks (six hours) when I wanted real surf and water fun. Hell, I even swore I’d head west, out to the mountains of western Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia to get a little elevation into my blood, and (GASP!) up to New York City (an easy train ride away) for the culture you can only get in the Big Apple.

That mindset and those promises all came together this past week. A buddy from college is hosting a big party—today, as a matter of fact—at his new home outside of Boston featuring four (yes, four) bands and several of my closest, best friends are attending. I RSVP’ed in the affirmative as soon as I heard about the party weeks ago and have been looking forward to it since then.

And to top it all off, Hurricane Fiona picked this week to cruise north from the tropics and send surf to the Eastern Seaboard. Perfect!

My plan really came together last weekend. I was going to head to Connecticut or Rhode Island Thursday afternoon. I would stay wake up there Friday morning and get into the water. Surf a couple of hours then head back to wherever I was staying (or a library or Starbucks) for some work. Maybe an afternoon surf session if conditions stayed good and then a bit more work. Hopefully another session in the Atlantic Saturday morning and then a short drive up to Massachusetts to party like an aging rock star. Wake up Sunday and make the long drive back to Annapolis. Boom!

Well, as I’m sure you can guess by now, it didn’t quite work out that way.

Work chose this week to be the first time that a bunch of deliverables came due. And there were several Zoom calls that popped up late in the week that required my attendance. Spending seven-ish hours behind the wheel was not conducive to either of those two requirements. So instead of motoring, I spent Thursday afternoon going through a pile of articles about making a plan to protect one’s brand online. And Friday, when I might have sprinted to the Delmarva beaches, was spent going through a long video on digital privacy and picking out takeaways to highlight when we present said video to the public next week. I wound up working late on both Thursday and Friday, at which point, I pulled the chute and opted to stay here in Annapolis this weekend.

I took a lot of grief from my friends who are undoubtedly partying right now—the first band was scheduled to start just under an hour ago. But to be honest, there were several factors that combined to make me decide to sit tight.

For starters, I couldn’t, in good conscience, abdicate my responsibility to my work. Yes, believe it or not, I am a professional and take my job seriously, despite appearances to the contrary. And I had kinda hoped I could find a friend’s place to crash up in Connecticut or Rhode Island and save the expense of a hotel, but I struck out there, too. I’d have been content to pitch my tent—I did that the last time I visited Plum Island when I camped in a neighbor’s backyard, even during a torrential rainstorm—but I no longer know anyone in the area with room.

The point is: I bailed because I didn’t want to do the drive unless I could break it up a bit. Going seven-plus hours up today, partying and then driving seven-plus hours back tomorrow was never in the cards. Spending two whole, consecutive days behind the wheel, a bunch of it in and around the insanity of New York City? No. Thank. You. Yes, I used to drive double-digit hours on a whim but nowadays? Fuck that. Between the price of gas, the price of tolls (particularly the NYC river crossings) and the nonexistent driving skills of the majority of Americans on the road, all of whom are angry and selfish, and…brrrrrrr!

Had I been able to crash (no pun intended) somewhere and do, say, five hours on Thursday or Friday, stay local for a day or two, then a short drive to Massachusetts today, followed by the partying and one long day behind the wheel tomorrow? Yeah, that was doable. Seeing other friends en route would have added to the appeal. And getting some hurricane surf in Rhode Island would have been the SUPER tasty icing on top of the cake. But one by one those aspects I’d been looking forward to fell away and I found myself looking at the up-and-back option. And again, to that I say: No. Thank. You.

So right now I’m kicking myself, missing my friends and knowing that I’m missing an undoubtedly great time. And I find myself chastising my inaction, telling myself, as I titled this post, that I never learn. So yeah, I’m bummed I’m missing out on this weekend and I’m swearing to myself that I’m going to fire up and get active again and not be like myself in San Diego post-2013. I hope I succeed, and I believe I will. But it’s coming at the cost of this weekend and right now I’m beating myself up.

The thing is: I DO learn. I’m learning right now. I just need to apply what I’ve learned.