Monday, August 20, 2012

Surfin' USA

I have lived at the beach for over eleven years and have often gazed longingly out at the surfers. For some reason, I've never had the guts/time/confidence/ patience to try the sport, which looks so beautiful from the comforts of my living room window.  

When my friend Suzan called offering to treat me to a yoga/ surfing class for my birthday, I jumped at the chance. My recent experiences in Spain have fueled my adventurous spirit and I hope to keep saying yes to things normally out of my comfort zone. Suzan, too, has this adventurous spirit, so I was thrilled to take the plunge with her.

After an hour of beach yoga, a Scooby-Do looking van pulled up to the parking lot and out came a plethora of surfboards, wetsuits and guys with really long hair.

I'd never tried on a wetsuit before. It felt like it took an hour to get on. Since it was a little large I kind of looked and felt like the Michelin Man.

After an all-too-quick lesson on the sand about board safety, we were in the water paddling through the break line.

Teacher Scott was a patient, comforting angel as I became increasingly nervous with waves crashing over and under me. Everyone kept saying what a calm and beautiful day it was - and it sure was beautiful - but it is quite possible I swallowed more ocean water than humanly safe. I found it very challenging getting to the sweet spot of the ocean where the surfers patiently waited for waves. But I persevered thanks to Scott's encouragement and steady hand.

The first time I caught a wave, I rode in on my belly, like riding a body board. Hey, I was just thrilled I didn't fall off. And it was fun! The second time I got up. I couldn't believe it. I actually stood in my board, arms outstretched riding a freakin' wave. I rode it to the sand where I simply stepped off when the board couldn't move anymore. The third time I got up but someone else's board landed on the front of mine so I jumped off, lest there be any sort of head-on collision. Suzan took to the sport like a natural. At one point I saw her carrying the surfboard on her head through the water before hopping on and paddling the rest of the way. Way to go, Suz!

I found surfing to be terrifying, exhilarating, exhausting and addictive. I would definitely try it again, and look forward to it. Don't you love that picture of the long-haired teacher? It couldn't be more cliche.  In case you're wondering if I'm in pain today, the answer is a resounding yes. But at least I don't look like this:

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