The story of Issue 59 cover star Alex Florence is an enchanting one!
How’s your relationship with your ma?
If you’re adopted or were aborted (and are therefore reading this from a bed of teddy bears in baby heaven, tears skidding down your sad lil face), y’can stop right here and move onto the magazine’s main feature of Ms Alex Florence, mother of John John, Nathan and Ivan, Hawaiian princelings. Forget about empathy and just read about an epic lifestyle played out on the Hawaiian sand.
Unwanted chillun aside, most of us have a loving, but distant, sorta deal with the woman who kick-started our lives. As kids, we blubbered when she went away or dropped us off at school camp, but, later, when we hit the teens and adulthood, she stopped being so important. We’ve still got love, but she isn’t the first person we think about when we wake up.
Imagine this. What if you came into this world, and pretty much your sole memory is a ma, a super ma if you really want to spell it out, who has lived her dream her entire life and whose dream became your dream; who turned you onto everything that’s fun and maybe pointless, but still fun and ain’t that what we’re here for, anyway?
Mom John aka Alex Florence was 16 when she split New Jersey and landed on the North Shore in those short shorts and long white socks, carrying a backpack, a skateboard and a headful of dreams she’d cultivated from watching the old Chris Bystrom film Blazing Boards. Pretty soon, she was the mascot of all those North Shore tough guys who didn’t really know what to make of this surfer-skater gal who pretty much tore up whatever surface she was rolling on.
Six years later, John John was on the table. Then came Nathan a couple of years later, and then Ivan. Then Dad split town as a convicted felon and that was that.
“I had total freedom with my little friends!” she says. Ain’t that just her way?
Alex, being Alex, being such a follower-of-her-dreams, didn’t let a little thing like radical poverty stop her from living on the North Shore. She stretched out her study at the University of Honolulu (a degree in literature) so her student loans could cover the little things like food and rent. Or at least make a bit of a dent in the expense of raising three kids solo. An upside to the years at college was it turned Nathan into this crazy reader of obscure English literature. Totally serious, the kid would mow through a thousand page book in a day: Bukowski, Proust, Melville, whatever was cooking.
She took in boarders at her lil Rocky Point rental. Ten, sometimes, stretched out on couches, four to a room, whatever. When you come to the North Shore for the season you’re just stoked to find somewhere reasonably soft to drop your head. Alex played on it and the kids grew up with a houseful of surfers and, most of the time, enough food.
Now, wouldn’t y’just look at the little urchins. John John, the world title ace, Nathan and Ivan, turning into the hottest young big-wave things in the world.
And, all because their ma turned her back on a New Jersey lifestyle. All because their ma refused to let anything stand between her, her boys, and her beach.
Mrs Florence, you are gorgeous, brilliant, juicy and so alive! – Derek Rielly
Full story available now in Stab issue 59. Buy it online here.