Surfing a post-Christmas ocean is so full of promise. Kids froth on bright white boards covered in virgin coats of wax over those first painful pressure dings, and they are so full of hope. Hope for some design edge that will make them faster, more radical, more vertical, more surgical in their wave attack. Hope that this new board will make them better than their buddies and somehow elevate their maneuvers to match those that dance to punk rock in their minds.
The kids carry these sticks from Santa like treasures, safely wrapped in board bags. You can almost feel their energy as you brush past. It's a far cry from next year when same said boards are yellowed and dragged from car windows. Devoid of their possibilities and filled instead with predictability, an "old" board screams of slug and sloth. A year-old board isn't what it used to be. Thicker glass jobs in a pre-disposable society saw boards treated like new gifts for years, passed down and used until dings were repaired, gashed open, and repaired a second time. Thick gray wax globbed over a bruised deck and thumbed thick into splits in the fiberglass. Each spider crack tells a story. Each delaminated blister wails of afternoons spent steaming in a hot car with windows sealed tight. That sharp, crooked nose longs for a time before a leash string untied and sent it straight for the pier.
Old boards are like chapters of your life, the airbrush a glimpse into your psyche and the board's dimensions a testament of your age and self-image. But a kid who walks onto the beach with his fresh Christmas board doesn't know about all that. Instead, he beams with pride and longs for that first wave to throw down all those moves he dreamed about last night. That's what the gift of a surfboard really is: a gift of hope and possibility.