Over this past spring break, one of my friends from high school and I went to Malibu Surfrider Beach, where he taught me some of his surfing skills that he learned while attending UC San Diego. Because it was my first time, and we only went out for a day, I was only able to stand and catch some small waves, but that’s not the point of this blog.
This wasn’t the first time my friend had been here, as it’s considered a surfer hot spot (hence the name). As a result, he had made some friends with the local surfers in the area. We ended up surfing with them, and the more I interacted with them the more I realized how carefree they were. Cliche surfing phrases like “cowabunga” aside, they didn’t seem to care about anything other than the waves. Even after we were done surfing and went to go eat and rest, some of the guys wouldn’t stop talking about how they were excited to do it again the next day, as if nothing else mattered to them in their lives. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not judging. In fact, to be honest, I’m actually rather jealous of the seemingly stress-free lifestyle they live, relative to both the common person, and especially my current life as a pre-med student (not to say other peoples’ lives aren’t stressful). Even my friend from high school, who completely changed (partially because of him getting into surfing, as he told me, and partially because of “growing up” in college), was acting like them.
It wasn’t until I got home where I connected what we talked about in class, as well as what we recently read in the “Four Ecologies” book about Surfurbia, to what I had witnessed. In this stressful society, which still consists of suburban ideals of normality (although this has definitely decreased since the 1950s as a result of countercultures), there is still this strong counterculture of surfers that don’t seem to “give a damn” about responsibilities like going to work to earn for the family (most surfers were and still are males; females were probably more limited by society, making it harder for them to join these rebellious subcultures). Although this is rather sexist, some girls who became/are surfers now also don’t seem to “give a damn” about their “responsibility” to take care of the house and kids (DISCLAIMER: not saying that that is there responsibility, just that that’s what society made it back then). Whereas this “subculture” started as somewhat of a rebellion against suburban ideals, over time it has become more mild by being accepted as just a young adult phase that will be outgrown eventually. Case in point, many of the surfers there were Caucasian adults in their late teens/early 20s on average, including my friends. This idea of a “phase” was explored in the book and eventually movie “Gidget,” which we briefly looked at in class. Basically, a late-blooming girl joins some surfer guys (unlike the other girls that try to attract the boys) until she eventually “grows up” and gets married (settles down). Although it may be considered a phase (I personally wish it wasn’t, and that it was more of a practical option personally), it’s kind of fascinating how this subculture has survived from it’s roots as a counterculture to that of the ideals of the 50s. Not only that, but it seemed to give rise to many other rebellious subcultures, like skate culture, which my friend, by no mere coincidence, was into in high school. All in all, I definitely had fun “hangin’ loose” for a day.