I parked my car in one of the side streets near Gjusta, a great spot for baked goods and to-go food made from scratch. I ordered a nut milk macchiato; how Venetian of me.
My friend Brian pulls up in his black Mini Cooper, a car so small that one of the two surfboards mounted onto the roof stuck out on both ends of the vehicle. “Morning”, he says through the open window, in a voice that gave away how recently he got up this morning. I got in and we drove off.
It was 7:15 a.m. by the time we got to the parking lot at the beach, less than five minutes after we met. The lot was almost completely empty, and I could see only a handful of people in the water. We put on our wetsuits, each grabbed a board and walked towards the waves. Before we got in, Brian told me put down my surfboard in the sand and lay on it. He explained how surfing works in theory, and had me jump up on my feet a few times. Considering the fact that he wasn’t an instructor he did a good job with his last-minute crash course. “Ready?” he asked. I nodded, and we walked into the ocean.
Of course I didn’t really stand on the board much. I was kind of on my feet once, in a crouching position though. Still, my first hour surfing in Venice was an amazing experience, and the most peaceful yet active way to start the day I can think of. At one point, we were sitting on the board, waiting for a wave, and we spotted two dolphins about a hundred feet away from us. A few other surfers were close by, all looking at the animals and enjoying this moment. Smartphones are useless in salt water.
I was at the office around 9:30 a.m., about half an hour later than I usually get there. Only this morning, I felt incredible. It was like I had already lived an extra day in the few hours since I woke up. I can’t wait to go out again.
Text and photography by Mike Zwahlen.
Mike Zwahlen works for Google and moonlights as a writer and photographer. He is the co-founder and Creative Director of Elusive Magazine and lives in Los Angeles, California.