I surfed today. I surfed. I surfed without anyone telling me what to do or how to get better. (Ungrateful little shit, aren't I? I love you, Costa Rica. Call me.) I can't believe I surfed today. It was amazing.
I felt pretty nervous going into it. I've gained some weight, so I was pretty sure I was going to split my wetsuit in two, or maybe get barred from the ocean altogether for looking very un-surfer-like. I also worried about conditions - what if I made the drive only to find the swell had dropped? With intense family drama, insomnia, strife with Huntington Beach, staff expense reductions (oh no they didn't) at work, and coming out of four simultaneous classes at school (only because I couldn't get my shit done on time), I honestly would not have dealt well with a wasted day off.
So I woke up waiting for the sky to fall every step of the way this morning and it didn't. I suited up, waiting to feel bitterness over having to wear a wetsuit when all those kids down in Costa Rica don't have to . . . but I didn't. I hoisted my board on my head and brought her down on the sand, and then I knelt by her and applied some much-needed wax. I put on my leash and waded into the water, having finally picked out a good spot to start in.
The whole routine was such a meditation. From the second the water level crested the top of my booties (booties = 7 mil, wetsuit = 4 mil, so I can always feel when it passes my feet), it felt so good. I don't know why or how, but this is where I can most be myself. This routine - the drive, the suit up, the wade in, the paddle, paddle, pop - the whole thing. It has become part of who I am. Being out of my comfort zone there has become my comfort zone.
It felt like there were a lot of people in the water today, but there were probably less than 10 at all times. I think I was just feeling self-conscious about being in people's way because I couldn't find my groove. It was like my board knew I'd been riding other boards since the last time I held her. She threw my ass off the deck every single ride. I kooked it up out there, and while there were definitely some swears, there were a lot more laughs. I rode a different size of board in Costa Rica, so for about the first 15 rides in today, I positioned myself way too far forward on my board, and for the next 15 rides, I was way too far back. I just couldn't remember how to work with this board. Not super productive, but I had the best damn time in the water.
I stayed out for about 3 hours and, my god, that's a long time for me. When I finally surrendered, the wind had come up and I was chilled so deeply that I didn't stop shivering for over an hour. But I couldn't have gotten out of the water earlier; I wanted to stay in forever. It felt so good, so familiar, so right. I actually had to talk myself out of going back in the water after an hour wandering around town. It wouldn't have worked for today, but it got me kind of stoked thinking about Fridays this summer catching an early surf, lunch in town, and then a late afternoon surf. Are you freaking kidding me? Two sessions in one day? Yes, please. Thank you, sir. May I have another?
After my session, I went by the surf shop to say hi to the owner, pick up a wax comb (it's definitely time for a little maintenance) and ask about getting a smaller board. It was great to be there -- they have a new girl working the front and she was so cool. Very young, sounds like a pretty new surfer, super enthusiastic. I talked with the owner about trying some different boards, and he commented on how smiley I was out there today. (He surfed for a bit in the middle of my sesh - dude is good.) I told him a little about Costa Rica and how awesome it was, but told him it just didn't compare to here. Freaky but true: I love surfing in Oregon. The owner listened to me go on about how there's no place I'd rather be, and then he said, "Well, this is your home break."
A-hem. You guys, I have a home break. I wanted to excuse myself and get my notebook: "Dear Diary, today the surf shop owner referred to the cove as my Home Break. Love, LSL."
My heart is overflowing with stuff I want to say about today, but I'm coming up empty. Whereas I usually crash off my board when I wipe out, today I dove off it. I swam around and played in the water every time I ended up there. I wanted to run around the parking lot and grab every person by the ears and yell YOU GUYS, WE ARE SURFING IN OREGON! I loved Costa Rica and was grateful for every hammock nap and banana pancake. But there were no ear-grabbing fantasies there. I don't know what to tell you. I love surfing here.
I can't freaking wait to reconnect with Jules (maybe in about a week) and just get this season started. I think I figured out that if I get up at the crack, I can make it to the coast and back and only be a couple hours late for work, which might be ok once or twice a month. Add that to every weekend, and I might just come out of this funk yet.
One other thing: I saw the owner in the lot after surfing when we were both taking off our wetsuits and he yelled over to me, "Nice hickey." I could feel my suit rubbing on my neck in the water but I couldn't believe it left a mark he could see from so far away. He told me to come by the shop so he could hook me up with some Belly Jelly (see how I'm taken care of here?) and when I got in my car I couldn't freaking believe it.
And that's just one side. It looks like that all the way around. Good thing I didn't call in sick today, huh?