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Whirlwind weekend

Ken Fowler | Thursday, September 29, 2005

I was supposed to get my driver’s license this weekend.

Then again, I was supposed to keep my necessary certificates safe so the beautiful bureaucracy that is the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles would let me take the road test.

At 3:20 a.m. Friday, after 13 hours of travel that included a three-hour flight delay and diversion from the friendly confines of LaGuardia Airport in Queens to New Jersey’s Newark International, I couldn’t find the certificate showing that I took the appropriate 5-hour beginner drivers’ class.

After a few hours of sleep and a couple more of searching, I resigned myself to the fact that it was nowhere to be found. The driving school that had my records was closed, and my road test was within hours. I went to the test site anyway, knowing I would be denied.

I was right in my assumption.

When I got home, I figured I had to make the most of the two days home. I mean, the plane tickets cost $161. The bus was another $57. Meals at Midway and LaGuardia, about $20. Overall, my two-day, three-night voyage home cost me nearly $240. Plus, the travel had been hellacious, and I had failed my weekend’s main goal.

I was not going to allow the days to go to waste, so first things first.

I threw on a bathing suit, grabbed my fins, and walked about a quarter-mile to the south-facing ocean beach of my hometown. It was the first time in a little more than a month I had been there, and I was dying to catch a few waves.

Lucky for me, the sunny day’s air was about 75 degrees and the water about 65. And despite an onshore wind, the waves were breaking cleanly and three to four feet – perfect for bodysurfing.

Glory!

I swam out to the surfers dropping in off the jetties and started catching waves of my own. I realized once again the thrill of lying prone on a wall of water as you fall over the face of a wave.

A few times, I was a little reckless and took a few tumbles, but I’ll take a few bruises and scrapes for the joy of bodysurfing any day – even a day that was a failure just hours before.

After I exhausted my playful energy from constantly swimming out to the line of breakers, I caught one last wave and called it a day. I put my fins in one hand, shoes in another and shirt over my shoulder.

It was the beginning fall, and I felt like I was just starting summer. I was walking barefoot in on the street, salt water infiltrating my ears and eyes and sand up and down my now-not-so-tan legs. My smile was ear-to-ear as I walked home.

Just 45 hours later, I wrote this column in Midway amidst a cold September rain, thinking to myself, ‘How soon can I schedule my next few road tests?’