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This Ohioan Went Surfing in San Diego


While staying in Solana Beach – a little beachside town North of San Diego I decide to surf.  I borrow a friend’s old school SUV which this Cali couple use as doggie transporter. I hop in the driver’s seat and am in heaven. Roll down the windows, turn up the radio and channel my inner Cali girl which results in blonde moment mix up on which beach to find and my true inner city girl starts having a fit at my tardiness for the $80 hour lesson. You wouldn’t be late for a massage I growl to myself.  I pull into the beach parking a bit displeased with myself then an older groovy coupled pulled alongside me and said ‘hey – there’s still time on our meter, honey, just roll on back.”  Yes!  Hello attitude adjustment.  Thank you, Calfornia!

Trying to find my surf instructor somewhere along the Pacific I was told this is the ‘coolest sport ever!” by some young surf tweens and from the sheer volume of wet suited kids of all ages it sure as well must be.   I trek up the beach and weave in and out of all kinds of folks participating in all kinds of beach fun and I find Andrew from Fulcrum Surf School. If I went to a sketch artist and described my perfect college guy surf instructor – it would have been exactly Andrew.  Tan, blonde as Brooke Shields’ lover in Blue Lagoon, perfect hairless surf hardened chest and back were all exactly as I would have conjured up.   However I could not have imagined more perfectly sparklingly blue eyes.  I greet him and I get the Cali -‘hey – cool ”   head nod.   I tried not to go Golden Retriever on him and say I love you too fast.

I would move to California and pay the ridiculous beach town real estate prices for the sole reason of living next door to Andrew.  Its not X-rated I just want to drink my morning coffee and watch him put on his wetsuit then walk up the street to the beach.  Yep he grew up a few blocks from the beach and probably went from diapers to board shorts.   At one point he told me surfing was just like skateboarding. Great umm how is this helpful?  What about me says – I shred it on skateboards?

There were other instructors.  The only word I heard the one long haired Hawaiian looking guy say was ‘hey’.  The other dude looked like his name was Wheatgrass and he said stuff like  “Imagine the wave as your twelfth chakra and the board near near your third eye”

Not Andrew, he put a board on the sand and did a few repetitions of the move you should use to stand up and that was about it.  He had to repeat it because I had no idea what he said the first three times. I was admiring his perfectly wet suited ass and wondering if I would like the house next door to where Andrew lives. Finally I tell my inner cougar to cool it and realize that is one athletic looking move he is using to go from laying facedown to balanced standing.  A move I am going to have to replicate on fast moving water so I start to pay attention.   Lay down on the board. Cup your hands to paddle. Get your large wet suited seal like ass out to the part where the waves aren’t breaking. Catch a wave. Arch your back. Get to your knees. Stand up.  Cool

During the next part of the lesson we stood around and squinted at the waves.  The gloom and fog hadn’t yet been burned off by the sun so the water and sky were still gray and we scowled at them. While you do this you also cross your arms and pace a little bit. Then I figured out the instructors were assessing the waves and sizing up my pansy level.  It was rough surf and crazy currents so they are asking themselves if I can handle it and wondering how much of hassle is it going to be to drag me and a heavy foam surf board out there and more importantly back?   I immediately declare that I am a strong swimmer and had been a lifeguard.  I failed to mention that my Baywatchery was at a suburban pool twenty years ago whose depth was 6 feet or less.  Pretty much the whole response to a water crisis would have been to yell ‘stand up!”  but there was a whistle and the tshirt said GUARD so I am going to claim  it and we hit the water.

Here’s what surfing really is; paddle, paddle, paddle, forceful bucketful of salt water to the face. Repeat.

We make it the ‘outside’ about 200 yards offshore beyond where the waves are breaking.   I paddled most of the time and stayed on my board. Win.   Andrew pushes me into my first wave and promises me that I will know when the wave takes me. He’s right!  Even the first time it is an awesome feeling of being on top of the wave as it takes you. I put forth some kind of effort to try and at the very least not be laying face down on the surf board.   I fall. More correctly I smack ass down and tumble through the very fast white water. What the what? Yikes!  In my very own Greg Brady moment something hits me near my ear.  I am not sure if it was the board or the leash cord or Poseidon himself wringing my next for attempting to outmaneuver nature.   Andrew asks how I am and I bark some kind of non-verbal response.  Now I am dressed like a seal and sound like one.

Paddle, paddle, paddle, forceful bucketful of salt water to the face. Repeat.

I try again and magic.  Andrew confirmed the wave was taller than I was and I rode it surprisingly all the way in! If you call clinging to the board on all fours on top of the water surfing then I surfed!  Quick high five to Andrew then

Paddle, paddle, paddle, forceful bucketful of salt water to the face. Repeat.

We only caught three waves that first day but I dragged my seabeaten ass back to Andrew and the beach the next day to try again.   It was just Andrew and I and one board so he would help push me into waves and I caught about a dozen of them and rode… kinda.   My success was somewhere between the soles of my feet never touched the board for longer than thirty seconds and I did not lay down the whole time on any wave.   Not bad!

Paddle, paddle, paddle, forceful bucketful of salt water to the face. Repeat


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