Jon Coen is a freelance writer from New Jersey focusing on the culture from the Jersey Shore to far reaches of the world. He shares his thoughts on his perspective on ‘stoke’ has shifted from big adventures and travel to now some of the more intimate and simple things in life, family. “Some Thoughts” is a written series on KorduroyTV with thoughtful people like you.
When Cy asked me to contribute to a column about living a stoked life, I actually hesitated for a minute. I’d just entered a very different place and wasn’t sure I had anything significant to contribute.
In May, my wife and I had our first child. It was, of course, the best day of my life. And not that it came as a surprise, but all the things that used to get me stoked went on hold.
So how then, in good conscience, could I write an essay about something so integral as stoke? Most of my life was working to save money and hit the road – experience eccentric fringe dwellers, chaotic hardcore shows, volcanic islands, supporting causes, sleeping in banana fields, and surfing snowstorms. And now it’s all bottles and swaddle blankets.
Ten years ago I bounced around Central America with a longtime homeboy in a van for six months. When I met my wife, we blazed mountains and coastlines together. We hiked the Rockies, camped around New Zealand, and were among the first to document the surf in Cuba. Now all that mind-altering experience has been on hold as we make the biggest adjustment we’ve ever encountered.
One morning in July we met my wife’s sister and family on the beach, before the blazing sun and douchebags. She had married that longtime friend of mine, the one I’d been doing dirty adventures with since I was 16. Our lives had morphed from open ocean swells, foreign women, and roaring fires on remote points to shading the kids with an umbrella.
That morning, my wife took my brown ’66 Weber Performer and paddled out. Her sister cradled the baby and stood by the shoreline. But then I watched my wife stroke that ancient log into a wave, shift her weight, bend her knees and glide down the line. Less than two months after giving birth, she was able to spin that vintage pig around and manage a little soul arch through the pocket. And there’s our little baby right at the water’s edge. I was as stoked – stoked as the first morning I navigated the sewerage treatment plant, bone yard, and the gang presence to get firing rights at La Libertad.
It was an affirmation that we would get our lives of travel and wonder back, plus have this curious little person along for the ride.
I’m still stoked, but my baseline for stoke has changed. I get stoked when he falls asleep in the hammock with me. I get stoked on 45-minute dawn patrols with a few waist-high sets. I get stoked to think that my son is now part of the idealist pluralism of the greater punk scene. I get stoked to grow vegetables that we’ll feed him this fall. I get stoked for the one day of the summer I get to a hardcore fest and dance like a madman. I get stoked when he busts out his first laughs.
And I realize that after our heavy summer work skedge and this infant period, we’re going to be traversing the sugar fields of the Caribbean, exploring strange cities, and finding lines in New England again. But for now I’m still stoked.
Photos by Ann Marie Coen and Ken Salerno