Friday, May 6, 2011

Three to Remember

Same session as the post above, but I don't want to forget these things from my time with Jules:

Early in the day Jules mentioned they'd had a rescue the day before -- someone got caught in the rip and was carried out past the rocks on the outside of the cove. I was dumbfounded -- I've only been on the outside a handful of times, but we use the rip to get out every time, and sure it's tiring, but you paddle out and then rest a minute and you get your strength back. I just wasn't understanding how someone could get caught and carried out to the point of needing a rescue. And THEN we paddled out. The report said 7-8' that day, but it looked about 100' to me. My god. I couldn't even really get out. I kept getting tossed off my board, so I'd get back on and try again, remembering to paddle directly into the wave on my way out, and there was just no way in hell. Twice I caught up to Jules, who was sitting on her board watching the horizon, and we'd realize (she before me) that we weren't far enough out, so we'd see the wave start to crest and we'd lay down and start paddling straight into the wave. She'd make it and I wouldn't -- I'd see her feet go over the massive lip from right underneath before it pounded my head. I did one perfect turtle roll and then gave up even attempting to hold my board. I just held my breath and ducked under water while the wave broke so it wouldn't snap my neck (it probably couldn't have, but damn, I felt stuck), and then I'd come up and find - there I was again, right in the impact zone. I'd have time only to take another big breath and go under to avoid the weight of the water. I felt my leash pulling on my leg and was relieved my board was at least 10' away, but I took about 8 successive waves like that - from under water with only enough time to come up for air in between. Sucks ass. And is scary. I was just starting to wonder if I was going to panic when I felt the ocean floor with my feet -- I'd been carried all the way in without even knowing it. What a mess. And an hour earlier I'd been wondering how in the world some idiot had been in need of a rescue. Jules came inside to see if I wanted to try to get outside again and I was dumbfounded. I told her I couldn't have tried to get outside again if I'd wanted. After that first attempt, if Mr. Great White himself had been two inches from my nose I couldn't have paddled one more time. What a lesson. Jules told me her partner says it's like a bank, and you have to know how many paddles you have in the bank before you go out, and you always save some paddles just in case. What a good lesson for me. I was tired after that one - the effort and the fear took it out of me.

I'm wondering about finding a smaller used board because I just find my big, gorgeous baby so cumbersome to deal with. The awesome shop owner let me take a 9'2" out with me (just let me take it - no charge, no nothing) that day and I spent some time on it after my lesson. It was slick (I didn't wax it and it needed it) and not very wide, and the rails were pretty thin, but it felt frickin great. I got used to it way faster than my own board, and my last ride of the day was just one long, sweet, curvy, juicy, love song to life. No one is more surprised than I am. Maybe it's a fluke - we'll see. I'd like to try an 8'6" next time and see how it feels, and then maybe ask the owner to keep an eye out for me for a good, used board. I feel kind of silly thinking about getting a second board when I'm such a beginner, but I can't deny that 9'2" felt amazing. So I'm just playing around for now.

I want to remember beautiful Jules in the water opposite of me, talking about aging and trying to find a solid place to anchor me to. She said, "You know, forty isn't what it used to be. It really isn't." It is frozen in my mind as a picture of a tiny miracle - this gift of one minute of total awareness: my 41 year-old surf teacher talking to her 40-year old student, both of us in wetsuits in the freezing Oregon ocean, me - willing myself against all reason to learn how to slide on water, and her - opening her chest and baring her beating, bloody heart in the hopes it will teach others they can do the same. You're right, Jules. Forty definitely isn't what it used to be.

1 comment:

  1. It damn well better not be what it used to be. I'm close enough to taste it.

    You both inspire me.