Sunday, November 20, 2011


I took a private surfing lesson on a Sunday in early October. It was an impulse decision upon my return from my 2nd LA trip in couple of weeks. On that last trip, I spent one morning/early afternoon on a quick tour of LA's beaches. Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Palos Verdes. What I wanted to do was languish in the sand, close my eyes and relax. What I did instead was drive along the coast, and stop in a few places to get a better look at the scene and take a few pictures. I lingered on a pier and watched some surfers. I don't think I've ever actually watched anyone surf up close like that before.

When I lived at the beach the summer I was 18, I never really hung out with anyone that surfed. All my friends either played beach volleyball or partied. I did plenty of both that summer. I had never been exposed to the art of surfing. I guess if I had, I probably would have tried it before. For some reason, my LA experience inspired me to give it a try. The only water sport I'd attempted before was water skiing. And besides feeling like I'd received a super sonic salt water douche, I wouldn't characterize my experience as actually skiing. More like being dragged from a boat with a rope.

Once I booked my lesson, I tried, although not very hard, to get someone to come with me, just to capture the experience on film. My son had baseball practice that afternoon, and since the beach was close to 2 hours away, it didn't seem feasible to drag the family along with me. Then I started to worry about how awful I would probably be on the surf board, or how I hate the way I look with wet hair, or it's October and I have no tan - so why would I want any photos taken during my lesson? So I was resigned to the fact I would do this alone. I don't need any more emabarassing facebook photos out there.

Turns out I was so wrong about not trying harder to find me a photographer to tag along. Turns out - I'm actually pretty good on a surfboard!

Upon meeting my 23 year old, tow-head instructor, Seth, I was thinking to myself, "What the heck have I gotten myself into?" We had to drive about 10 minutes to get to the location, and he continued to warn me that I shouldn't get discouraged if I can't get up on the board, and people sometimes need 2 or 3 lessons before they feel comfortable, etc. When we finally arrived, I stripped off my sweats to reveal my pink polka dot bottoms and my borrowed long-sleeved rash guard top. I slipped my flip flops off and decided to leave my towel and my bag with sunglasses, a comb and a ball cap in the van. I wasn't going to be some high-maintenance housewife client. I was trying to get into character. We shared the load of the 9" long board and hiked about 1/4 mile to the surf.
As we headed into the water, I could tell Seth thought he was in for a rough hour. Poor kid. I would have to give him a huge tip for making him freeze in the water trying to help me check off surfing from my bucket list.

Long story short, I got up on the board my first try. Seth told me that he has never had anyone get up on their first try, beside some freakishly athletic 6 year old he taught a few years ago. Certainly never any adults. I'm convinced that my years of ballet has given me some mad balancing skills. I spent the hour catching and riding a bunch of waves. I only fell off twice. I learned that you are not supposed to carry your board over your head when trying to get out past the waves. I also learned that you have to protect your face when you fall, just in case your board flips up on you. I truly never thought I would be able to do this, and I can't wait to try again.

Before I left for my lesson I assured my husband that, "It's not like I'm going to buy a surfboard and start a new hobby. I just want to see if I can do it." Now, I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy a surfboard, and I know I will be surfing again next Spring. I'm even trying to figure out where I can go to get in some surfing before then. I can't wait to have someone document my next outing. Hopefully I'll be tan and have hair that looks cute when it's wet by then.

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