When many people hear the word “California,” they think of an endless summer spent on the sand. While this isn’t completely true, I know I can’t wait to get out in that cool crisp water again and try to hang ten. Like all things in life, though, you have to learn how to crawl before walking, and so today I’ll be telling you the tale of how I went from a child-sized beach bum to a little surfing kiddo, and hopefully it won’t be a wipeout.
It all started many summers ago, when I saw some flick from the 1960s involving bikini babes and a big surfing competition. So naturally I mentioned to my Pop that I was interested in learning to surf. Unlike most parents, the next day he took me out to a sports superstore to find a wetsuit and surfboard. (Thanks, Dad!)
At that time, when I heard the term “wetsuit” I was thinking of a business suit that was drenched in water. Did I mention that at the time I was a child? For those of you who don’t know what a wetsuit is, it’s essentially a skin-tight, rubber, one-piece, unisex bathing suit that helps insulate you from the cold of the ocean, make your body more aerodynamic, and helps keep you afloat. Hmm, is it still aerodynamic if you’re speeding through the water? Would that make it hydrodynamic? I wonder about these things.
When we actually went to the beach, I was told not to worry if I didn’t get it at first. After all it isn’t possible to catch every wave, but the most important thing is to try. That’s actually one of those elements that transcends all branches of real life. There are opportunities all around us, some we see and some we don’t, but if we don’t try there’s no way to catch any of them.
Catching the wave is the first hurdle, and it involves a combination of both timing and paddling like mad to gather enough speed to keep yourself below the crest, above the trough and at the ideal speed that you can stick the wave. It’s complex and at the same time ultra simple. It’s something I can’t really explain; for me it’s a muscle memory kind of thing.
I don’t know how long it took for me to hit my first wave, or how long I rode it, but I do remember the amazing fun, as well as the last wave of the day, which I rode all the way to the shoreline, wearing the biggest, dumbest grin on my face.