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By: John Angiulo

“Are you ready to come back to reality?”  This question has been posed to me innumerable times in the last few weeks. My four month reprieve from winter in Puerto Rico has drawn to a close and those that I’m leaving in the tropics and those that await me in the temperamental climate of the north all seem to wonder how I will handle the reverse culture shock. And I understand why they ask.  Narrow roads lined with lush greenery, crystal blue water teeming with waves and wild life, a Wild West sense of lawlessness and time as wide open and empty as a broken hour glass are ill preparations for the stress, stringent laws, brown water and strict schedules that are easily associated with life in New York. Yet, that question leaves a bitter taste in my minds intangible mouth.


The reason being the negative connotation associated with the word reality. Additionally, there’s a rueful joy in the inquisitors, as though I’m being sentenced to return to a lower dimension of existence. This could not be further from my truth. Reality can be a wonderful thing. For instance, my last week in Puerto Rico went like this.

I had a group of friends/clients down for a Thursday to Saturday spell. We spent all of our days together, transitioning from lessons in the ocean to explorations about town, all of it adorned with laughter. The waves were perfect for them; just the very beginning of an incoming swell, giving them a taste of the juice I was so addicted to drinking. Then in perfect rhythm with the world, my compadres left, and the surf sang me a sweet farewell tune.

Sunday I surfed one of the most rippable and constantly packed waves on the Island with nearly no one out beside my girlfriend and one good friend.  There was a festival in town that blocked people’s way unless they were willing to pay. A strategic fib got us through and had my car sitting alone in a parking lot usually packed to the brim. The waves were head high to slightly overhead reeling rights with an oil slick texture that turned the waves into translucent green walls.


Monday the waves multiplied in size, moving me further down the fabled reef.  The day was divided into two parts, each a three hour session.  A strong contingent of some of the best surfers in the area comprised the lineup. The waves were in the double overhead plus range, the wind was offshore, holding open some heaving cylindrical sections. The size kept the crowd down and I traded some of the best of my season with some of the best surfers I’d met.

Tuesday the size had stayed and I got another chance to surf a baby version of a local big wave. The wind was up, the waves were large lumps of love and stampeded down the reef in rolling blustery balls of whitewater that chased big blue walls off into the depths of the channel. Later, the surf dropped and I surfed a surreal sunset session with just a few friends. The moon rose as the sun dropped toward the horizon as one massive blood orange ball of fire. My last wave took me towards shore as the sun fell below the imaginary line of day and night.

Wednesday was a walk in the park.  Slightly overhead, A frames that were filled with firm offshores, creating perfect little pits and endless sections to hit and hurtle one’s self off of.  My first wave found me in a clear blue tube, water passing all around me like a womb of stained glass.  The rest of the session was a romp around an aquatic skate park.



Finally, Thursday.  The waves had diminished again to just around shoulder high. Every single person I had wanted to see before I left was there on the beach and in the water. We traded waves for hours in perfect ease with ourselves, the ocean and all else in existence. Simple, fun and fulfilled.  From there I packed, had dinner and flew “back to reality.”

That whole week and the months that preceded it were my reality. But if people insist that reality is negative I will not argue with them. They can have reality and keep it in the dark as they like. If that is the case, and I’ve been living in positivity, then I suppose the only place I could have been was in Unreality.  And it seems to me that both places are really a state of mind.


I’ve made a decision to spend my life doing what I love. Not some days, or every once in a while. Not while on vacation and certainly not once I retire. I want it every day.  I’ve been back in New York for less than twenty four hours while writing this and in no way has my sense of wonder, excitement and joy diminished. Just the contrary.  

Things are new again. What was old is new and so much more is to be discovered. This is an extension of where I just was and there’s an infinite more to experience.  I’ll be returning to Montauk to teach, to surf, to see familiar faces and meet fresh ones. From there, who knows? But one thing I know is that no matter where I go, I’m not going back to reality. I’ll be somewhere that’s not a place, but a perspective, and one that’s forged by passion, determination and joy.  From here on out I will be continuing on in unreality. Perhaps you’d care to join me.



All photos credited to John Angiulo.

Plus don’t for get to book your surf lessons in Montauk this summer HERE!