On Saturday my pal, Bruce, celebrated his 60th birthday.
Yes, I used “friend” and “60″ in a sentence.
See, for more than a decade, I’ve been friends with this group of early-morning surfers I affectionately called the “Old Guys.” And Bruce is one of the youngest in the group.
It all started years ago, way back when I was a reporter with the now-defunct Honolulu Advertiser. I would paddle out in Waikīkī at first light to catch a few waves before heading to work. There were a bunch of us doing the same thing — an elementary school counselor, a Wrigley’s sales guy, a restaurant owner, a retired mechanic, a landscaper. Like it happens at every surf break, I’m sure around the world, we all started talking. First, about boards, maybe. Then, about jobs. And finally, we were all on a first-name basis.
We started meeting for coffee in front of McDonald’s on Kalākaua Avenue, then breakfast at Rainbow Drive-In. We trained for triathlons, we organized lunches and dinners, we even went on trips to Vegas and Japan.
For more than 10 years, this was my family.
As it happens with every group of friends, things change. Some stopped surfing or moved away. Others slowed down or found other things to do. Some left the group, new people joined. It’s different.
I remember vividly a moment when I was sitting at Rainbow’s years ago, listening to everyone chatting and laughing, as we normally do, and thinking, “Right now, everything is perfect.” But in the back of my mind, I knew that things would inevitably change.
And it did.
I don’t paddle out as often anymore, opting to surf with my husband in the afternoons instead. And now that I’m freelancing full time, I find it easier to work in the early morning instead of surf, anyway, so it all works out. But I do miss the Old Guys, the banter and the laughter, but life has moved in a different direction for me. And it’s all good.
It was nice to see everyone on Saturday, catching up with friends I don’t see as often anymore. I can’t say I wasn’t a little sad to see how much things had changed — and how much I’ve missed! — but it was nice to know a lot hadn’t. They still meet at Rainbow’s, they still tease and bullshit each other, and the laughter hasn’t stopped.
I’ve always believed that life has to move forward and that we have to keep plowing ahead, no matter what. There’s no sense in stopping or going back or wishing things were different. Things are always going to be different, and the only you can do is accept it and keep moving.
But it’s nice to look back sometimes and smile.