Lazy Point, Napeague, NY
July 28, 1994
So, if women must, they will paint blue sky on jail
walls....Women will draw doors where there are none, and open
them and pass through into new ways and new lives. Because the
wild nature persists and prevails, women persist and
prevail.Clarissa Pinkola Estes
As squirrelly as the road got back there, when it felt like I
was exiled, paralyzed, deprived of all
reduced to the existence of a
(and) horrible to behold, there were
friends who called, who offered prayers, and who let me know that
I was in their thoughts. My women friends, going as far back as
kindergarten, checked in from points as close as across the
street and as far away as the other side of the world. Like
blowing gently on a dying fire, their caring helped bring me back
from the embers of the bardo. True friendship helps us find
beauty in the darkness.
The best part about being alive again is girl time.
Theres a freewheeling lightness to driving underneath
overhanging trees, past marsh ponds and windmills and potato
fields with Catherine, a blonde attorney whom I met while working
on a human rights project for writers and journalists sixteen
Do you remember that afternoon in Port Washington, when I
hung on to the back of your sailboard while you were
windsurfing? she laughs. I still have those
Yes, I remember.
Do you think youll get into windsurfing
Only if I rent equipment. The thought of hauling all that
heavy gear around is overwhelming. The mere thought that I
might be capable of hauling all that heavy gear around is just
plain absurd. Im wondering if the idea of my windsurfing
isnt equally absurd. That is, until I spot the sign:
Before I promised God that I wouldnt complain ever again,
as long as I could walk and talk and breathe, I used to complain
about people who liked to stop the car to browse for antiques.
Certainly, I would understand if Catherine complained about
Would you mind if we stopped in at that windsurfing
swap? Im half-hoping that Catherine will give me
one of those irritated looks that I used to give friends who
wanted to stop for antiques, but her face lights up. Are
you thinking about getting a board?
Of course not! But I am already out of the car,
moving around the brightly colored sails and used windsurfers,
trying to gauge whether or not I could lift any one of these onto
the roof of this 1992 Honda Accord in the unlikely event I got a
roofrack. How much would it cost to get back in the sport?
I think, and calculate a quick estimate: board, mast,
universal, mast foot, boom, sails, wetsuit, harness, and
roofrack? About two thousand dollars. Out of my league.
Ive made up my mind to rent equipment. It will be
I seem to be talking to no one in particular when, like Alice in
the Red Queens rose garden, I come face-to-face with a
ten-foot-ten purple windsurfer, standing on its tail. A sign in
front of it proclaims, NEW FROM GERMANYXANTOS
310WEIGHS 16 POUNDS! Lighter than a bicycle. My
minds eye sees a slim, silvery wake fanning out behind my
heels with three hundred sixty degrees of prussian blue water
radiating sunlight capped by a bowl of sky. Right there, in the
store, I catch a scent of afternoon wind off the ocean. The back
of my ears tingle. Breeze. I had forgotten about
Intuitively, my knees go into flex mode as I lean
back a little. This feels oddly like meeting someone you used to
be in love with but you broke up and you thought it was over but
then you saw him again. Damn.
Its a brand new design, called a no-nose. I
delivered this comment to Catherine while shooting left across
the westbound lane of Montauk Highway in order to grab a
carlength of space in the eastbound lane, aware that it may turn
out to be one of those non sequiturs that gets remembered
forever, due to astrological conjunctions of that particular day,
hour, angle of the sun, and the manic speed you were driving.
Years later, Catherine will say, Remember when we were
trying to make that turn into all that traffic on Montauk Highway
and you started talking about someones nose? At the
same time, theres a growing, but dim awareness that the
succulent tidbit of information have just passed on is of no
interest whatsoever to the person sitting next to you.
Its one of the first Xantos boards to arrive in
this country from Germany. Am I talking to her or to
myself? We have slipped off the main road, dodging south,
behind Easthamptons Guild Hall, under an arch of old
trees, swinging east past an astonishingly wide curve of the
road, through the middle of the Maidstone golf course near the
ocean. When our trajectory intersects Montauk Highway at the
eastern end of Amaganssett (settled 1680), instead of hanging a
right, toward Catherines moms place in Montauk, I
gun the accelerator for a lunge across the highway, onto a rough,
pitted macadam road that curves around the edges of pine forests
and salt ponds. You dont mind? I ask with
the kind of slightly nervous laugh that people must have when
they know they have done something socially gauche, like
hijacking. Fortunately, Catherine has one of those musical laughs
that makes you think of arpeggios, even if youre not sure
what arpeggios are, music education not having been a mandatory
subject in the Brooklyn public school system. Reassured by her
laughter that its okay, we continue north until sand from
the forest spills onto the road where it forks sharply. Turning
right, we pass a couple of vans stacked with windsurfing
Getting close, I say.
Lazy Point Road ends at Napeague Bay, a flat stretch of water
that picks up steady ocean winds throughout the summer. Years
ago, when windsurfing was a way of life, I had heard that the
combination of steady thermals, flat conditions, and waist high
water gave Napeague a reputation as the Bonaire of the northeast,
one of the most popular windsurfing sites on this coast. I had
wanted to sail here years ago but this will be the first time
Im attempting Napeague and I probably should have my head
examined. The wind is coming from the southwest, around twelve
knots, and it looks like anyone planing out there must be half my
age. What am I thinking? That Xantos doesnt even have a
daggerboard. Ill keep falling off! Everyone will laugh at
Introducing myself to Bill and Jeremy, the two young men renting
gear out of the Main Beach van parked at the
waters edge, we chat about my windsurfing experience so
they can choose a sail thats right for my skill level and
the wind conditions. Im having one of those disorienting
mind moments where you seem to be having a normal conversation
and inside, anxiety is making your teeth chatter but fortunately,
no one can see them. Watching them rig up a new, 5.7 meter clear
Mylar Neil Pryde sail, it occurs to me that in the eight years
since I was last on the water, there has been a great technical
leap between my old, clunky HiFly and these new F2s. This
generation in sail design looks like an F-16 compared to those
old Wright Brothers planes. Considering that Im the
kind of person who gets intimidated in a hardware store (what are
all those gadgets for, anyway?) it looks like Id need a
masters in nautical engineering just to put that rig
Why did I say I would do this? I mutter, as
Catherine pats me on the shoulder for encouragement.
Back to the wind, with the board at a perpendicular angle, I
jump onto the Xantos, kneel, then quickly stand. This is the
point where I usually fall backwards on a shortboard. The board
is rocking back and forth, yet it feels strangely stable. Hand
over hand, the uphaul lifts the sail through the water, until the
mast is nearly upright. Hands find their way home, gripping the
boom and sheeting in, intuitively.
Liquid fire. Sun hits the brain. A moment of surrender, like
seconds before an orgasm, when molecules in your body fuse and
all around blazing, white, hotsilver light flashes through a
star-sapphire afternoon. I forgot, I forgot.
Youre good, Bill and Jeremy nod as I head
back in. Go take another run.
A gust of wind yanks the sail, but instead of losing grip, my
legs crouch. My weight now holds the sail. I lean back, against
Onshore, Catherine is clapping for me. Werent we
supposed to be at her moms place in Montauk?
Want a bigger sail? A harness? Harness? I would
end up face-first in the sail. Still, their enthusiasm is
No thanks. Were on our way to Montauk.
You were really good out there, they smile.
Such unexpected, outright praise is embarrassing. I remember one
of my last times on the water: Why arent you as
good as that woman? I never thought I was any good at
Copyright 2001 Viking Rain, Ltd.