Byron Bay was great. I couldn’t recommend it to you unless you like pot and/or surfing. The surf there is one of the best in Australia. I surfed most of the week, which is all there is to do there aside from falling for girls running the local Internet café.
Wednesday, I enrolled in a two-day surf course. It was a shameful two-days, but I loved every minute of it. On the first day, the only waves I could catch were because an instructor pushed me onto them. Getting a push onto the waves is standard for a first day of instruction, but come on, how cool can you look with someone pushing you onto waves in three feet of water? Second day out I harnessed the power of mediocre long board surfers and caught all the waves on my own. I felt confident because I was the only second-dayer amongst a bunch of noobs. In a moment of showoffyness, I tried to catch a wave in ankle-deep water. The nose gripped the sand, and I comically flew over the front of my board. The board caught the wave, and it nailed me in the head on the way past.
After the class was over and I forgot about the board flipping incident, I regained confidence and went back onto the surf. I felt good until a ten-year-old boy swam up next to me and asked me if I wanted a push into the waves. He meant well, I guess. On Friday, I surfed in the morning for around an hour or so alongside dolphins. When I say “alongside,” I literally mean that. About ten to fifteen meters away, a school (?) of dolphins were playing and would often burst forward and fly through the air then diving back into the water. There was only a handful of surfers out there, but we all stopped to watch the performance. No matter how bad I looked, I could care less at that point.
As for S., my philosophical hostelmate, he exhausted me. I had more exit strategy issues than the President. And much in the same way, none of them were effective. Normal phrases like “I have to use the toilet” or “I have to go to bed, it’s 2am” or “I have to call my mom, it’s her birthday” couldn’t penetrate his social force field. S. would respond, “Oh, just one more poem/idea/concept/etc.,” which would turn into another hour. I could tell he was lonely, and because of his upbringing, didn’t understand my attempts out. Don’t get me wrong: the guy was incredibly interesting, and he said a lot of enlightening things to me that have impacted the way I view things. He quoted beautiful poetry in several languages and religions and could speak German, French, Hebrew and sans script among other languages (even one he invented himself). He understood Jewish culture and provided context on several Biblical passages. But I also enjoyed sleeping and getting out of a room that smelled like a dag.
Being “real” with other people is important to me, and it was no different with S. I was open with him on my thoughts on people, church, global issues, and spirituality. However, it got too real for me the last night I was in the hostel. So much so, that I was afraid of him when I spotted him as I caught my bus out of Byron. He spoke of so much peace and goodness unless evil became the topic. On more than one occasion, he said, “Turn the other cheek is bull sh*t. If someone gets in my way, I’ll kill them, I will. I’ve had enough.” At one point, I watched him experience demonic activity. During that moment, he walked over to my bed, grabbed a hold of me, and shook me while saying things like “get rid of the evil within you.” That was the last night I stayed there.
I also ate at Subway a lot.