End of August already, the very final day, the curtain call of summer bliss that fades out slowly as a lingering dusk but seems to carry with it all the weight of a lighter gravity and golden dreams. Where did this summer go? It ended for me in a similar fashion as it commenced, traversing sands miles from home and wondering at the possibility of a life elsewhere, far from New York’s versatile skies and green-and-gravel patchwork. Only difference this time was the choice of coast, trading my summer-starting Pacific Ocean romp for a surf-laden weekend in Virginia Beach where I clamored upon a surfboard for the first time and managed to shakily ride a wave all the way to shore (it’s so much harder than it looks, and so worth every bit of rubbed-raw skin, salt-water gulping, jellyfish fearing excitement). I have a newfound respect for surfers who actually master their waves, carving their names in and out with extreme dexterity amongst those watery crests. I was thrilled when my feet finally steadied beneath me and I felt, for a few brief moments, an unexpected surge of empowerment over the rolling life beneath me. It was a splash of exuberant, triumphant success, accomplishing my goal of riding at least one wave during my first sea tumbling lesson, putting my money where my mouth has been all these years of surf lusting.

But waves crash all too soon, of course, and all I can do is brag that I managed to tame one for a short ride and coax it into carrying me safely to shore. And in that flight of sea-and-sand freedom, I didn’t even think about a jellyfish once.