Saturday, April 24, 2010

a surfer.

The waves are small and shiny today. They appear to be inviting to me. I haven’t been in them for maybe months, now. Really, months? Yes, I believe the last time I went in it was February. I love to be in the water. I love to paddle around. I love to get swooped up and carried towards the shore with the grace of a wave. I love to walk on the water. I am a surfer, but I am not a surfer. Have I surfed before? Yes. Have I had surf lessons? Yes. Have I spent days after days in the ocean on a surfboard? Yes. Do I have any idea what I am doing or how to catch a wave? Nope. Do I know how to read the waves or a surf report? Not really. I can tell how big they are and that is about it.

I learned to surf in 2005 on a trip to Costa Rica. Loved it, caught on right away, came home to San Diego and did not get back on a board for 2 years. I did not know anyone that surfed and let the intimidation of the surfers keep me from going after my dream to be a surfer girl. I also spent most of my time on the road (on tour) and did not have a home, so that did not motivate me to buy a wetsuit and board, either. I finally had a friend that surfed and had a collection of boards, so I bought a cheap wetsuit and jumped in. I was still homeless and mostly on tour, but now I had a friend to go with anytime I was in town.

A year or so later, I found myself moving in with said friend and joining a little Dawn Patrol group. We would go surfing in the brisk winter mornings, rising with the sun. I started to be able to call myself a surfer, but I was always going with people. Going to the spots that they picked, paying no attention to the conditions myself, just jumping in along with them. In 2008, I spent a good amount of time home in San Diego and was able to really be a steady surfer, but still mostly went with other more experienced surfers and then in 2009 found myself back on the road again with few breaks at home to surf. The last time that I did go surfing in Oceanside, I did rock it though. I caught waves at the right points. I rode them in. I was a surfer.

In my new little home, I live right on the water (amazing!) When I moved in, I asked around and heard from many people that the spot directly behind my building is one of the best spots to surf. Guys told me they had been surfing there for 15+ years. I was stoked! Then, what I came to realize is that “the best spot” for one person, may not be “the best spot” for me. For guys that have been surfing all of their lives, "the best spot", may not be "the best spot" for someone who is still pretty much a beginner surfer.

For the first time, I am not depending on others to find the best spot, to check the conditions. I can not just follow blindly and paddle out wherever they choose. I get to learn it all for myself now. Have I let that intimidate me? Yep!

I have never been afraid of the ocean, I was afraid of people. The people on the beach and the other people on boards in the water. They are going to judge me. I don’t know what I am doing! I am so not a surfer! But, everybody has to start somewhere. Everybody is a beginner at some point. It doesn’t matter if they are watching me and judging me. Most of the time they probably aren’t noticing me anyway, they are having their own beach experience, their own surf experience. I am just in the background of their snapshot of that moment. Or maybe, they do notice me. Maybe I will inspire them. Inspire them to show their skills or inspire them to put themselves into something new. Who knows? Or maybe I will be great entertainment for them. It doesn't really matter.

Today, the waves invited me in. I was not afraid. I was just going for a paddle. If I caught a wave, radness, but I am just going for a paddle. The spot right behind my building is a spot of endless waves. Endless. They never stop. Ever. Whether they are big or small, they just keep coming. This means you have to be ready to swim through them, once you get past them, to the other side, you can have your pick of which one to ride in, but first you have to get past them. I have let this intimidate me. It it is the biggest thing that has kept me out of the water for this long, when I can easily run down my stairs and get in. Do I want to paddle my butt off just to get out there? But all I have to do is paddle out there and then I can chill until I am ready to take one. So what's the big deal?

So, today, I paddle out and get right through. I am on the other side. I try to take a few, but they are not very powerful and neither am I, today. All of a sudden I am in a place where they are endlessly coming at me again. I paddle and paddle to get past them but I am basically on a stationary surfboard. It is as if someone has set up a board in a wave pool just for me to gain paddle strength. I am paddling and paddling and not going anywhere. The waves keep coming. I keep paddling. This doesn’t frustrate me, though. I am aware that I am currently a stationary paddler, and I am cool with that. It is giving me and my arms a chance to re-connect. My legs and I have been talking a lot lately, with all of the bicycling and walking. Although, my arms are the ones guiding the handlebars, they are easily forgotten. So, I am perfectly peaceful in my stationary paddling position. I don’t care if there are people on the sand or in the water looking at me, trying to figure out if I will ever make it past the breaks or not. I am perfectly content here. If I get past the breaks and get to catch a wave or two, fabulous, but I am just happy to be in the water. This is it.

I may not be standing on my board, walking on water, but what I am doing right now is a part of surfing. Everyday the waves are not perfect. Everyday is not easy. This is a part of my learning. This is a part of my surf experience. I am being with the waves. I get that my paddling is getting me places, even if it appears that I am stationary. This is what surfing looks like for me today and I will keep coming back and keep coming back, because that is what it takes. I am being a surfer.


  1. Very insightful story. I'll reread again tomorrow, too. My jet lagging head doesn't allow me to have a clear vision in my mind now ;) But I tell you this...I can imagine myself on a surf board trying to paddle in the water. We all surf in our own ocean/life.

    Thank you. I'll sleep now dreaming about fresh ocean breeze....

    Love and Meow,

    Hana & Seesaw the cat

  2. Damn how you described it! I live by a lake so i try to windsurf but there is no wind so i cant really do it...therefore, i surf the snow in the winter...i love it!

    However i do want to learn how to surf...we are going to Cali for a 15 day holiday with the hubby and we were thinking of stopping 3 days in San Diego and take a begginners course. Then you'll see two dummies paddling having no idea of what they are doing in the sea...Lonely PLanet told us that San Diego has the best begginer beaches in you agree??