Steve is twenty-five but he had never been out in the ocean much past his ankles before last Saturday, but then again, there are a number of things Steve has never done that most American twenty-five year olds have — driven a car, read a book, spoken a complete sentence.
I like to talk to Steve; he’s my friend, but with us it’s mostly simple signs and growls. We growl well together.
My friend Daniel also has a disability. I know lots of people with disabilities. I like them the best. They are happier than anyone I know just to see me, and I never feel a need to prove anything to them or saying anything ritualistically weird like is required with my “normal” people. My friend Daniel’s mom told me once that he used to stand at the ocean and order the waves to go back. Awesome! Kind of like Jesus, but with Downs.
Last Saturday, Special Surfer Day at La Jolla Shores, Steve went into the ocean up to his waist, lay down on a surf board, allowed himself to be towed out to where the waves were setting up, and then surfed to shore on his stumach. We called his mom from the beach to tell her.
One of the leaders of the event told everybody. There were a few humid eye lids under the canopies — salt water.
Steve lay down on top of fear and rode it to the shore.
On his second ride, Steve came up out of the white water bloody. He had taken one on the forehead. I gave him five, and we took him to the lifeguard.
“He can’t talk, I told them,” although that isn’t totally true because there is the growling and a few words and the signing, I said that so that they wouldn’t bug him too much with questions and frustrate him.
I was proud of him. I told him so. It was a small cut.
“You’re a real surfer now, ” I told him. “Real surfers all have scars!”
He was happy. We went home happy. I like the beach! I want to go back this summer with my daughter Roz. She isn’t “normal,” whatever that means either. She has seizures, so we always have an eye on her at the beach, but what a water dog that girl is! She loves the ocean!
What is it with the ocean?
My precious ones — they rule it.