Can the uptight ever hang loose? Hilary Achauer examines her complicated relationship with surfing.
The paddle out was easy that day. I didn’t even get my hair wet. I sat on my board with my dry hair and forced myself to look at the ocean, at the sky. I looked at the people walking on the beach and made up little stories about the surfers around me.
For 15 minutes I tried for the smaller waves that came through. Nothing. I fought back feelings of discouragement, of inadequacy. My husband actually nicknamed me “The Angry Surfer” for my repeated frustration with the sport.
A little wave popped up on the horizon, and I decided to give it a shot. I paddled hard, digging my hands in the ocean, careful to keep my fingers together to increase the resistance.
Then I felt it. My board started moving faster. I stopped paddling, and the board kept moving. This was it. On the last few waves I had tried for, I had popped up too early, so this time I forced myself to take a breath and wait. Then it was time. I popped up on my feet, and I was riding the watery roller coaster.
I turned the board parallel to the shore, staying ahead of the breaking wave. I felt my board slow down, so I walked to the nose a few steps, trying to make the small wave last longer.
Then it was over. I jumped off, grabbed my board and pointed it back out to the ocean.