The second day of surfing started off with three advil and exhausted, puffy eyes. I woke up on Sunday and I cursed myself for signing up for the two day clinic. Even Kamel had lost his enthusiasm.
“Why did you do the two day again?” He asked.
“Because it was recommended…?” I said.
“Oh right, of course, because why would they recommend just going for one day when they could hook you for two…” His enthusiasm was obviously spent the day before.
I was definitely less apprehensive on Sunday. No jittery nerves, just a tiny bit of dread knowing I had to yank on a cold, damp wet suit again. But I was going to be in the salty surf! Riding the waves! And today was going to be so much better than day one. I was going to flex my muscle memory and rock the shit out of day two. I was ready.
And then when we got to the beach the weather was a little different. I noticed the waves where bigger, and more frequent, the skies were more grey, and the wind was a little stronger. It actually started to rain. Once I had my board and began pushing through the breakers, I realized it didn’t feel at all like the day before, it didn’t feel at all like how I thought it would.
I felt terrified.
Every time I saw a huge (huge being a matter of perspective as they were about 3-5 feet above my head and to non beginner surfers that’s a cake walk) wave come barreling toward me, I would brace myself to be absolutely swept away. It doesn’t help that I was holding onto a long piece of dense Styrofoam and trying to lift it above the break of the wave so it wouldn’t flip and send me flying backwards with it. Just trying to push out beyond the breakers to get to a point where I could time a wave, paddle forwards and attempt to stand, took me 20 minutes at least. Every time.
And then of course there was the time that I did get tossed by a wave, and pushed under the water, and my board flipped over and yanked my foot, and I had to try not to panic as the ocean turned me in circles and I paddled fiercely to the surface, choking on salt water, and reaching for the cord attached to my ankle to reel in my board so it wouldn’t get in any other surfer’s way. I stood up and expected people to clap, or ask if I was alright, but looking around nobody even noticed. And then I thought, I could straight up drown and no one would see me. Even with Kamel on the beach watching and taking pictures, I felt really alone.
The instructors spent a lot of time with me, trying to get me to consistently stand instead of go straight to my knees (instinct, I can’t help it). And when I confessed that I was really afraid, that the waves were scaring me, that today felt different, they told me to suck it up, mind over matter and all that. Really? You don’t think I’m trying that right now as another wave that just combined with another wave and another comes roaring towards me?
(is that not one of the saddest photos ever? oh the misery.)
And then an instructor set me up to take on another wave, and instead of gliding into shore, or trying to stand and then falling into the water, the wave crested funny and sucked me under immediately. I saw the water pulling the board down and me with it. And as I was sputtering, and trying to pull my self out of the water all while securing my board for the hundredth time, I couldn’t help but think, “fuck this. I’m sore, I have water in both my ears, I’m spitting up salt, and I’m tired of trying not to drown.”
You know what’s awesome about this experience? I actually did something that I’ve been wanting to do since I was a kid, and that I was surprisingly afraid of when the time came. That I stuck with it even when I was totally beat up, exhausted, and terrified, and that I stood on a surf board and felt the sensation of gliding on a wave.
I have to admit, I was disappointed to not be a natural born surfer. I’ve let my 12 year old self down a smidge. 25 year old Lauren is just not as cool as 12 year old Lauren had hoped. I’m also a little bummed to not absolutely LOVE something that I had on my life list, but I would never have known unless I tried, right? Adventures are a mixed bag, and without this one I wouldn’t know how awesome boogie boarding is. I think I’ll skip the whole need to stand up on a moving, floating, object, and just stick to riding the waves in warmer weather, and without the constant fear of drowning.