I open my eyes, turn my head and feel my muscles shriek as I attempt to roll off the mattress, my noodley arms are useless so I flounder on the bed till I manage to work into a semi-standing position. My neck feels like Andre the Giant stepped on it, I think my spine is crooked and my stomach feels like some sadistic trainer made me perform 500 crunches in a row. No, I haven’t been in car accident, I did not trip or fall down the stairs, and I am not following some insane work-out regime.
I am learning to surf.
This sport, which surfers perform so effortlessly, has been one of the hardest, and one of the most humbling, things I have ever tried to learn.
This is a rough idea of how I tend to surf: grab my board, paddle through the white water as it continues to hammer me, fall off, lose my board, get smashed by the white water a few times, finally arrive at a place where the waves can’t beat me. Face my board to the beach, look behind for a wave, paddle (again) to catch the wave while trying to time it so the wave doesn’t crash directly on top of me, if I manage it right, get pushed faster than I expect, try and stand up, lose my footing and perform a spectacular crash into the water, almost drown for a little bit, subdue the panic attack and with the last bit of air leaving my lungs, come to the surface gasping and spluttering, turn around only to find another wave preparing to land directly on my head, hang out underwater, do a couple back flips, wonder how my head can touch my toes like that, resurface, and repeat 4 or 5 times. Once the set has ended have a little cry and thank the heavens, Buddha, Vishnu whomever that I am alive, climb back on my board and REPEAT.
The beautiful part is that very slowly you figure out how to stay on your board, being beaten by the waves is a little less scary, wiping out becomes humourous, and eventually the feeling of riding a wave gets addictive in an “I can’t move my arms but just one more” type of way. There are still moments of indescribable panic but somehow this lessens and I’m finding myself wanting more. I’m still a little scared that I could drown but Tom doesn’t want me to worry because:
“You won’t drown…your wetsuit floats.”