Summer Sounds: Ocean Waves

Albuquerque writer Richard Vargas thinks about his iconic Summer Sound: the breaking of oceans waves. He lived in California once, and they represent the freedom he felt then.

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MELISSA BLOCK: Now, it's time to wade into a summer sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)

(SOUNDBITE OF GOLF CLUB SWINGING)

(SOUNDBITE OF MOTOR)

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUMMERTIME, SUMMERTIME")

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) It's summertime.

RICHARD VARGAS: My name is Richard Vargas. I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My summer sound is a wave crashing on the beach.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAVES CRASHING)

VARGAS: That sound always takes me back to Seal Beach, 1975. I was an undergrad at Cal State University Long Beach, taking for granted the last summer I'd have all to myself.

Getting up and leaving the house by 7 a.m., I pedaled down city streets until I reached the Pacific Coast Highway, and by 8 a.m. pulled into the parking lot by the pier, the beach empty and vacant, waiting for the day's crowd to start arriving.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAVES CRASHING)

VARGAS: The morning waves were mine, and mine alone. Over the years I had mastered the art of body-surfing, and like the Alpine skier on a slope covered in fresh snow, I would dive in and carve wave after cresting wave.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAVES CRASHING)

VARGAS: Using my body like a paint brush on a green canvas of glass, until it lifted me up and shot me out like a rocket towards the shore. The roar of tons of saltwater crashing down onto itself as all around me violent white foam sparkled under the warm California sun, always left me with a feeling of awe, as if I had finally found proof of God's existence.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAVES CRASHING)

VARGAS: Afterwards, as I stretched out on my beach towel, my heart beating out of control, my chest heaving up and down as I gulped air and beads of water slipped off my glistening brown skin, I closed my eyes and listened as the waves kept coming, kept crashing, kept calling my name.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAVES CRASHING)

HOST: That summer sound from Richard Vargas of Albuquerque.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: This is NPR News.

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