most material things I could give two shits about. but every once inna while there is an object which happens to somehow create -by its simple existence. Ol’ Yeller, seen here exiting my house beneath E’s arm, is a perfect example of a ‘thing’ with the power to bring together and bind friendships.
E gave me this board sometime around 1994. it had belonged to his older brother Pancho. it was built in Brevard County, Florida sometime in the mid-70′s. at one point it fell off the roof of Panchos car and dragged along the highway by its still anchored leash, rubbing the rail raw.
fast forward to 1995. I was surfing alone south of Cocoa Beach at a spot called Tables . it was a time when longboards and ‘retro’ boards were definitely not mainstream cool. a tall guy with waist length sun bleached dreads approached me in the water and asked about the board. we traded off for a while. later we would be roommates, and later, that straight edge kid would become one of my lifelong friends -D$.
I only see E about every two years. he always comes to visit me everywhere I’ve lived -something I have rarely done in return. E visited me in Jamaica, Portland, and now Halifax. now we are both older, with kids, and infinitely more patient. but otherwise nothing has changed. we laugh at the same shit and can share silence like only good friends can.
when I left for Jamaica in 2001 I stored ‘Ol Yeller at my folks house. later in 2004 when B and I moved to Oregon, D$ kept Yeller and offered to get her patched up proper. he surfed it a handful of times and got the hang of it. but being a man of great surf skill, Yeller’s difficult temperament in good or bad waves made it more of a novelty than a daily driver. so she went into dry dock and we agreed that we’d never get rid of Yeller unless E wanted her back.
a couple of years ago I brought Yeller back up to Halifax. I only rode her once. there she sat in my basement rack, filled with memories and retaining her ability to bind friendships.
I once met the man who made this board. his name was Robert Strickland (RIP 2003). I took Yeller in to him to commission an updated version. he went back into his shaping room and pulled out an old template from the 70′s, blew off the decades of dust, and placed it on top of the board. it fit perfect. Strickland was sure he’d shaped the board when he was ghost shaping for MTB.
now, it’s been nearly 20 years since E first gave me that board. and today he took it home with him, excited about the prospect of riding her in South Carolina beachies. next time his brother visits and sees the old yellow board he’s gonna have some flashbacks. E will keep the board for the foreseeable future and hopefully one day our kids can give it a go.
perhaps it’s not the object that has brought us all together, but it serves as a marker for those years of shared experiences. and through our long absences it has waited in hushed anticipation, like our stories have, to be revealed over a shared meal and laughs.
we made a paella last night to celebrate the evening.
E, thanks for coming and I can’t wait to see you guys again.