I had a really great session yesterday. It turned out to be my best one ever, which is crazy because it was exactly 30º outside - the coldest weather I've ever surfed in! Jules and I congratulated each other on being such badasses - there were actual icicles hanging from the dirt and rocks on the cliff. I'm sure the cold sounds pretty painful, but really it's not that bad. Changing into my wetsuit outside before surfing is chilly for sure. In the water, it's just the first time the water hits your face that it stings. And afterwards it can get pretty intense changing back into dry clothes outside and hanging out with a wet head. Actually, the worst part is using my frozen fingers to peel back the neoprene and pull the straps on my car to mount my board. That just hurts. But being in the water isn't that bad. I wear a full wet suit with gloves and booties, and below about 35º I wear a hood. I actually got fed up with noise being muffled this time and surfed for a bit without the hood, but eventually my ears needed to be covered.
This session was with Jules, and we did the beach talk in my car (with the heat turned up.) It was a great talk. I told her about my discovery (made here) about doing a pop up the right way - that it's not that I don't have the physical strength to do it, but I'm afraid of doing it because there's no backing out - once you start, you're committed. She totally got it and said that one of the reasons she thinks surfing is so healing is because of the ways it requires you to relinquish control to advance. She talked about her own path in surfing and how she's progressed to riding bigger waves, but still sometimes feels fear dropping in on biggies. During our talk I was really feeling grateful to have her friendship and guidance and encouragement through this. It was a good discussion.
So I practiced my move on the sand a few times like usual and then we got in the water. I took some rides and was having fun, and then I decided no more of the old pop up (with knees.) I would only do the real move. And then the craziest thing happened - I did it. It just clicked or something. Just like the guy at the shop said yesterday. (Yeah, the one I referred to as the "shop employee"? Jules let me know he's a former pro. Ok then.) (Dudes, I totally got advice from a former pro.) It wasn't perfect - I never remembered to pivot my front (right) foot (so it's perpendicular to the board), so I wasn't able to balance for long. And for the first three rides I got my feet planted on the deck but was too afraid to lift up with my hands so . . . I ended up doing a bit of a downward dog on the board. Gawd. Not very dignified to ride with my booty in the air. We had a good laugh over that. But on the last good ride I got both feet on the deck and I stood up basically in position just long enough to think, "Omg, I think I just made progress" as I was diving into the water. Man, I hope that sticks. It felt really good specifically because I had to risk to do it. It was another level of letting go and it was a big step. I'm proud of myself and anxious to get in the water to practice it more.
You know, in addition to make some good progress, I just had a total blast in the water with Jules. There were a few other nutty surfers, but they were all on the outside, so we had the whole inside to ourselves. It was sunny and beautiful and we just talked about life and laughed and played in the water. I was really having a "pinch me" experience the whole time.
I went by the shop after the session to buy thicker gloves (HELLO, my 1.5 mm weren't cutting it), and I ended up chatting with the owner for a while. He's a really cool guy. He used to have a respectable job way back when, and he told me all about workin' for The Man and how he made the transition to surf shop owner and how he's been living his dream for the past 11 years. Super cool to hear his story.
Now I have a couple days off because the surf got big (10' and over), and thank god I do because I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. My triceps ached. Strange feeling. I have a big bruise on my right knee (this is such a mystery - it happened early on this summer when I started lessons, too, and then disappeared), and I got quite a bit of sun on my face. I just feel generally wrecked. So I have two days to get it together before I can get back at it.
I can't wait.