Urban Surfing

Living in a metropolis without surfable waves, it turns out, nevertheless hones the skills of a surfer.

For one thing, walking down the sidewalk without incident demands a good sense of timing and spacial awareness: an accurate calculation of the speed, angle and density of the cresting human wave behind, so as to avoid being pushed over the falls and trampled onto the concrete reef below, as well as of incoming waves, through or around which you must paddle to reach a zone of calm and relative safety. Indeed, human waves can be more challenging because they are often less predictable then real waves, as people come in a variety of shapes and sizes, let alone stages of health, and are often accompanied by an assortment of stuff such as animals, bags and large-wheeled strollers (and, god forbid, pointy umbrellas), creating a more complex and dangerous force to be reckoned with than one comprised of uniform H2O molecules.

Yet having successfully navigated the ebb and flow of sidewalk tides, there is still the eventuality of having to cross to the other side. Like being caught in a rip current, you are forced to swim in an angled trajectory to escape the pull of the masses, at the same time dodging errant and erratic homo sapient and vehicular flotsam, only to find yourself arriving too late on the shore of the subway platform, as if the doors were waiting to close the moment you got within a nose.

If, however, you are lucky or skilled enough to make it in time, you might be rewarded with an exhilarating ride inside a crowded car where there is no available pole, or pole within reach, to hold on to as the train surges forward and lilts side to side inside an underground barrel.

Feeling your core tighten and your legs flexing to stay balanced on the shifting floor board, while your upper body remains artfully poised between other people’s chins and backpacks–you have reached the pinnacle moment of urban surfing.


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