Happy Ending: Night Terror

Tahiti. Photo: Domenic Mosqueira Tahiti. Photo: Domenic Mosqueira

I have this recurring nightmare. Maybe not quite a nightmare, but a bad dream, for sure. It's late afternoon and the sun hangs high over the ocean. The waves are unexpectedly big, and unexpectedly good. I stop whatever I'm doing and race to the car to gather my surf stuff, and that's when things start to go wrong.

I'm missing a fin, or boardshorts, or a leash — it varies depending on the night. I have to drive all the way back to my house, and hit every red light along the way. I collect whatever I'm missing and race back to the beach as the sun creeps toward the horizon. I trot down the sand, trying to reach the water, but I keep bumping into people I know and am forced to stop and talk to them as the sun falls faster and faster. By the time I get to the shoreline to paddle out, daylight has expired and perfect waves fire into the darkness without me.

But maybe it's better I didn't make it out.

Because as I look at this photo of Teahupo'o around nightfall, I imagine that lip breaking a few feet in front of me…and shit…no thank you. Then it would definitely become a nightmare.

—Taylor Paul