It's too early for tourists. It's too off-season for tourists. I dig my feet into the sand and watch the water – the blue water – push back and forth against the beach. A couple surfers are out on the waves, most of them just lying on their boards. I don't think they're really trying to surf at all. I think it's just about being on the water.

It's too early for waves, I think. Too early.

It's warm. Not like home. The sun is out and it's still too early, but the world is bright. The water is blue. Not green. Blue. The sky is clear. No clouds. Just sun. Just birds flying across, and into, endless blue.

"It's a little early, don't ya think?"

I look up and squint my eyes against the sunshine. There's a man standing next to me with a surfboard and big tattoo across his chest. He looks like he could use a good haircut and a bath.

He drops down next to me and the tattoo is a replica of the world map. It seems a little funny to me. He's really tan. I'm really pale.

He says; "So what's your story?"

And I say: "You tell me."

"Well," he starts. "Let's see. Ya just got married. Right now you're on your honeymoon and you're thinkin' maybe ya got married too early. That's why you're out here. Your honey is in your hotel room asleep, and you snuck out to go sit on the beach and think. Right?"

I'm smiling by now. I kind of like this beach bum, so I say; "Not even a little."

"Ah well. Ya can't win 'em all."

I ask, "Have you won any?"

He says, "I guessed a gal's weight right once. She slapped me. I deserved it."

I laughed. He smiled.

"But really. Why ya out so early?"

"Back home the water isn't this blue," I say. "It's kind of green. Not like this."

"What's wrong with green?"

"It's not blue."

Now it was his turn to laugh. The tan, tattooed, surfer bum laughed right at me. Loud. Clear. Right across the beach and right after the birds that kept sweeping across the sky. I was okay with it though. He didn't know me, and I didn't know him. But we knew it was too early.

He needed a haircut. I needed a tan. A set of wings wouldn't be bad either.

"Ya know," he says. "Ya remind me of one."

"One what?" I say.

"A bird."

All I had was something incredibly eloquent like: "Huh?"

"Ya know them baby birds? The ones who are too scared to try flyin' because they haven't figured out how to use their wings yet? Yeah. Them. You remind me of one of them. See, you got your wings. They're right on your back just waitin' to be stretched. Ya just gotta jump first. Gotta fall out of the tree and start flappin' like hell before ya get anywhere."

I just stare.

He gets up, and grabs his board. "You've been holdin' on for too long, kiddo. I'm not even gonna guess how old you are. It's just gonna make me sad to see someone so young look so old. It's time to let go. Ain't nothing worth holdin' on to that will let them wings waste. There's a big ole blue just waitin' for you to find the mornin' that ain't too early."

And that's it, he's off down the beach with his board and his back turned so the only part of his tattoo I can make out is Australia. He's gone into the water like some kind of wonderful wave, with only an imprint left on the sand,

And me.

He needs a haircut. I need a tan. He doesn't know me, and I don't know him. But we know that somewhere there is a place where it's never too early, the blue is real blue, and waves do more than just wash away sand. But what we really know is that in order to surf – or fly – you have to be willing to fall first and trust yourself to get back up.