Saturday, February 19, 2011

At Last

I had watched the surf report all week anticipating the possible but rare, almost mythological, convergence of a nice day in the water and one of my days off. I didn't want to jinx myself, but I called Jules about five days out and left her a message in a low whisper saying if possibly just perhaps kind of maybe it sort of a little bit worked out, I'd love to book some time to surf our freaking heads off that Friday.

I may or may not have spent the next four days with my iPhone 2 inches away from my face waiting for her to call. The day before the proposed sesh, I received a text saying she was going out of town and wouldn't be able to hang out. Wrecked! Desperate - totally fricking desperate - I called the surf shop owner and said that I knew Jules would be out, but was there someone, anyone, maybe another teacher, maybe a guy off the street, who could take me out the following day.

You know how sometimes you want something so badly, you need it so desperately, and it doesn't work out? This wasn't like that at all.

The shop owner told me to meet him at low tide the following day and we'd paddle out together. Seriously? Seriously.

It was junky as hell and hard to get outside. I spent ten minutes in the line up waiting for a wave to try and wondering what good fortune had come my way that I found myself sitting on a surfboard in the ocean in February next to the rad, generous guy who helped get me started.

We were sitting, waiting, wishing for a while - it was just such a crap day; he never would have put a toe in if it weren't for wanting to help me out - and the first good-sized one that came my way, I went for it. It ended poorly (god, I took some hits that day; a couple scary ones, too - it was too big for me out there) and by the time I washed ashore I decided to just stay inside. I could have waited out there with the others, but in 45 minutes or more, among 3 guys, one of them got one wave. (A freaking great one, too.) I decided to stay the hell inside because, and this was my thought: I sit all day. I've got that down. I want to ride.

And ride I did. It was surprising how long it took for me to get steady on my feet. I got up every time, but I took probably 10 waves instantly falling on my butt before I was able to figure it out. That's a lot of time and energy spent falling on my head. Just as I was wondering if I would ever get it back . . . there it is, I recognize that feeling - man, that feels stable and right, heart up, right Jules? Is this really happening? I love this feeling. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Again and again and again.

The others went in after about an hour but I couldn't give it up. The wind was getting stronger but the waves had come down to about 5' and I just couldn't have walked out of the ocean at that point for a million dollars. I said I was going to stay and try to get a couple more. And an hour later when I couldn't push myself up with my arms for one more ride, I took off my leash and walked out of the water about a thousand times more myself than I was when I'd gone in that morning.

I stopped by the store on the way home to thank the owner. What the hell. I still can't believe he did that. He told me that he'd stayed while I surfed solo and snapped pics of me. Can you believe that? Generous. And do you know why? Just for the love of the sport. You know I'm not tearing it up out there or going on to spend a million dollars at his shop. He's been so generous to me just for the love of showing someone else the unspeakable joy of surfing.

Sigh. It's always an adventure to wake up the day after a session to discover what bruises and marks cover my body. I usually can't see them until they have a chance to settle in. My god, I was covered. Always the right side where I hold my board, up and down my torso and under my arm. I also still had sand in my teeth, which is indicative of a special kind of spanking. But it was a really fantastic session - really amazing to be back in the water after too many months land-bound - and hopefully it will tide me over one more month until my vacation.


  1. Sigh. So happy for you. Sounds like an awesome day. And I am so glad for the pics!! It's so cool!

  2. Ahhhh, I tear (as in cry) for you when I read this. Perfect. Just what you needed- yeah? Very generous of him to snap some awesome photos and then pass them along to you. Look how great you look!

  3. How wonderful to see you upright, making it look so casual, your stance so nonchalant and natural. I think back to the times you couldn't rise from kneeling on the board, your frustration. Your story in surf is an exemplar of the rewards of perseverance.

  4. That guy is a gem.

    So glad he went out with you and you got to get a taste of that sweetness in the waves.

  5. What Greg said! DUDE--there was a time when you couldn't stand up and LOOK AT YOU! Tres rad.