“You can’t go surfing in Alaska.”

Lou’s mother was prone to disbelief.

“I already sent you those YouTube links of people surfing Icy Bay. Didn’t you watch them?” asked Lou.

Lou neatly folded his wet suit and packed it in the bottom of the extra large Patagonia® backpack he’d ordered specifically for his upcoming trip with the crew.

“I’ve never heard of anyone surfing in Alaska, Lou.”

Lou ignored the second comment from his mother. You couldn’t reason with a person who wouldn’t consider basic visual evidence. But, he knew this already, knew that she wouldn’t listen to anything that didn’t fit into the static world she’d insulated herself within.

“Lou, didn’t you hear me?” she asked as she entered his room.

How could she expect him to listen when the practice was so foreign to herself?

Lou looked up from his packing. “Oh, no…I missed it. I’m trying to make sure I don’t forget anything I need for the trip. You wouldn’t want me to freeze out there, would ya mom?”

She didn’t crack the smile Lou had been hoping for.

“Well, I talked to Jackie on the phone the other day. Her husband used to surf ya know, back when they lived on the coast. She said he’d never surfed in Alaska before.”

“Not many people do, mom. That’s why we’re going.”

Lou remembered when his mom had been more adventurous. She was the one who had taught him how to hike as a kid and mountain climb as a young teen.

Every ounce of adventure had been sucked out of her after the accident happened. She wouldn’t so much as pitch a tent at the local campgrounds now.

It’d taken 3 years for Lou to fully realize how differently he and his mother coped with tragedy. He tried every chance he could to shock himself back into feeling while his mother embraced the dark and warm routine of the mundane. His hope lie in the rush of uncertainty and risk. Her drug was the numbness of safety—or if not safety itself, the labor of creating the illusion of it.

“I just wish you’d stay closer to home, Lou. I’ve been looking at that community college brochure that came in the mail. Why not look at some of the programs?”

“I told you, mom, I’m going to apply to colleges in a few months. Right now, I’m trying to enjoy this gap year. And I’m not going to community college. I’m thinking something out of state, maybe Colorado.”

“Lou, that sounds so far away. Won’t you miss me?”

“I don’t know where I’m going yet, but I promise I’ll come home for the holidays.”

“Well, can you please promise me you won’t chase waves your whole life?”

“No promises on that one, mom.”

Lou kissed his mom on the head and went to the kitchen to pack a sandwich for the next day’s adventure.