I arrived at 9:00 to an almost empty lot and started suiting up. It was much colder than the day before - only 56°! - but it was earlier, too. The waves looked pretty small from the lot, and I thought it might *almost* be small enough to try green waves if I'd been with Jules, but they picked up in size as I suited up. So I just scribbled myself a note to remember to call her after my session to ask her to look for a small day in the next few weeks so we could get started on green waves.
About five minutes later, who drives up? Jules. Sleepy and smiling and with the twinkle in her eyes and the halo above her head. I was ready to go down to the water and she was getting ready for a lesson, so we only had time for a quick hello, but it was just great to see her. I'm crazy about Jules, y'all.
It was cloudy and foggy and, totally contrary to the forecast, stayed that way the whole day. Not so fun after an 85° day the day before, but it did allow me to get a fresh coat of wax on my board without it melting all over my head. And I wasn't even a little bit tempted to go without booties.
I had a pretty good first ride in the water - fairly stable, although not so long - and a few more right after that. I focused on really going for it and throwing myself into the rides, and ended up with some pretty fun and strange wipes outs on the few rides I got: no predictable back-flops like usual, so that was good. But the session was mostly crap and the ocean didn't cooperate with my romantic vision of what the day would be like at all. The conditions were so strange - around 4' and really mushy or something; the waves started big and strong and mushed out almost immediately. It felt like there was nothing to ride on the inside. I got impatient after my first few attempts and my frustration grew from there. I spent two hours moving all around the cove looking for anything decent, and only came up with crap. I don't know. My mojo was so far gone, I felt like I'd never touched a surf board before in my life.
I wondered if having Jules in the water giving a lesson made me nervous or was giving me performance anxiety or something, but I don't think so. If anything, I was feeling like she would be my good luck charm. Her boyfriend was there, and he came over to me at one point and advised me to go a little further out because the waves were mushing out so quickly. I appreciated his advice. He's so the opposite of a macho surfer; I really like him. But it wasn't having it - I couldn't get anything. There were two other instructors giving lessons around where I was surfing, and both of their students were about 8 or 9 years old. I started to feel self-conscious and crappy watching these little kids dominate their rides while I got sand in my teeth on every attempt. And one of the instructors was a girl I took a lesson with once last summer while Jules was busy, and I started to get really down on myself thinking - a year ago I was with that instructor on the inside (the shallow area), and here I am a year later, still on the inside.
I don't know. Sleep-deprivation affects me in seriously evil ways, and I am working on about a month of no sleep. And I have some heavy shit in my life right now that is just always on my mind. I'd cried a bit in the car on the drive in that morning feeling defeated and tired. And the longer I stayed in the water, the more I spiraled - feeling embarrassed about my skill level and even kind of mad at myself for sticking with it. If it's taken me this long to make such small improvements, I need to take the hint - that's what I was telling myself. I cried for a little bit in the water (I know, I can't believe I cried in the water) and just had one of those times when you feel really alone on a deep level. Of course, I couldn't just end the session and go in because - this is a trick I play on myself every damn time - I want one last good ride before I get out. I have to end on a good ride. So I was feeling like shit, crying sad, little tears, getting smacked in the head over and over by waves, walking all over that cove, looking for one good ride to end my session on. Finally, I had a half-decent ride and thought, screw this. Good enough.
I went up to the rocks and put my board down and sat down to get my wits about me and have a snack. I needed a few minutes. I watched the surfers and the waves and just felt the heaviness of all the questions in my life that don't have answers. I felt resentful that the ocean didn't have more for me that day when I'd needed it so badly. And mad at myself for driving in for 3 or 4 mediocre rides. When I was ready to go, I noticed that Jules' surf bag was empty, which meant she must have finished her lesson and gone out for some personal surf time. I gathered a bunch of small rocks and started leaving her a message on her bag because I didn't want to leave without saying goodbye. Right as I finished, I saw her take a long ride in, and she ran up to talk with me.
And then the day took a turn for the much, much better.