"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf!"
- Swami Satchidananda
The alarm goes off at 5:30am and I burrow into my blankets. In Santa Monica, even in the summer, the mornings are cold. The coffee’s on a timer set by my husband Phil the night before, so the house fills with its aroma as I roll over and groan. I open my Surfline app and check the camera at Topanga Beach to be sure there is surf. On the screen, in real time, I watch the small black specs on an array of colored boards already in the water, riding the waves. Despite not being a morning person, as soon as I see them, I jump out of bed, my FOMO rising. I have to get out there.
The schlep begins. We haul the boards, wetsuits, leashes, towels into the car, drive towards Malibu just past route 27, U-turn and park on the Topanga side of the road. We squeeze into our 3-2 wetsuits and carry our boards down the winding beach stairs to glimpse the clean morning waves, windless and peeling steady. We take the careful walk into the water, amidst the algae covered rocks, jump onto our boards and paddle out into the line-up. This is, undoubtedly, the best part of any day.
Unlike most surfers, I began surfing late, at thirty. I went at it hard from the start, surfing as many times a week as I could no matter how tired, cold, or discouraged. A life long water lover and former competitive gymnast, I heard the calling for surfing years before I began my pursuit. At once, I loved it more deeply than I’d even set out to, in that soul-driven way that you can’t always find to love a thing and must appreciate when you do no matter how much you may fear or fail or suffer at its hand. While I wish I had started surfing sooner, I will always be grateful that I started at all. Grateful that I live in Los Angeles, a place with plenty of surf to teach me all the lessons a surfer must learn.
I’m not a know-it-all about surfing or in general. Actually I don’t prefer know-it-all’s. Having lived on the Westside of LA for more than six years now, I often find myself longing for a sense of humble modesty from those I encounter, from the world at large. Longing for things that withhold like a good narrative, feeding you well timed pieces of knowledge and insight instead of exploding their self assured greatness all at once… Surfing does just that.
Surfing has served as a challenge to conquer, a place to work through my fears and failures, a place to bond with my husband who learned to surf alongside me, and the ultimate place where I can be present, in the moment, and alive.
It's been a hard road learning to surf as an adult and I've had my fair share of fails, injuries, mistakes, as well as huge learning experiences and breakthroughs. I’m still a total beginner, but I’m so much fucking better than I was four years ago when I first started!
Surfing is currently my favorite thing to write about, talk about and think about. And so here I am… Every day out there the ocean tells a new story and I don't think I will ever grow tired of listening.