After the tournament, and after friends headed back towards home, I went surfing.
Though the morning had been sunny and (somewhat) warm, by afternoon the sky was cloudy and grey, the sea rough and menacing, and sheets of rain pockmarked the sand. It was cold and rather hostile looking, but it was our last day in Huntington and my last chance to hit the waves. When I went in to rent my board, the guys at Zack's Surf Shop thought I was crazy. "Today!? In the rain?" But they gave me my board and a full-body wet suit (for a mere $17 bucks too!) and I happily headed out; a bit nervous, but incredibly excited.
There's something magical about surfing. As you lay on your board, gliding across the swells and ducking beneath the waves, you feel the heartbeat of the sea. The waves slap the tip of your board and fling bullets of saltwater in your face, your eyes, your mouth. Your arms tire as you paddle against the current, out past the crashing waves, out to the open water. This is my favorite place; the open ocean, out past the breakers. I love laying on my board, listening to the water underneath. There is an indiscribable sense of peace out there. So distant from the shore, so distant from any worry or care, it's just you, ocean and sky.
There's something magical about trying to catch that wave. A series of five or six surfable waves break every 10-15 minutes. Without cease. So you sit on your board and wait, wait for those huge waves to come. You typically don't want to go for the first one, because it's smaller and rougher than the rest to come - and besides, the bigger the better. So you let that one go by, then you spot "your" wave when it's still a little swell...you turn the nose of your board towards shore and start paddling as hard as you possibly can to gain momentum, then your wave roars behind you, your board lifts, you stand, balance, and you're off! Center of gravity! Balance! Work the wave!
If only DOING it was as easy. I've stood up a couple times, and there's a glorious rush of exhilirated happiness when you do...but oh, it's hard. I got thouroughly beat up this last time, as is normal. Board to the head, drinking saltwater, getting tumbled by monster waves...yeah. The rain and impending storm didn't help any, but oh! It was fun!! Laying on my board, I'd watch the first wave go by and watch a sheet of foam and raindrops crash just feet from my board. Surfing is scary. It's you asking to be an oceanic punching bag. It's incredible. It's super fun. It's addicting.
Maybe next time, I'll catch more waves.