A Weekend in Trinity - Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021
Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021 @ 3:05 pm
A humid morning on the coast. The sun rising through a fog, and water dripping from the salal from an overnight rain. I walk towards the pink van unloading wetsuits and surf boards, my heart racing with nervous anticipation. I’m going to learn how to surf.
The morning after we booked this trip to the coast, I woke up deciding to book a surfing lesson. The idea of interacting with nature in this way, of being out on the water, of being part of a group of people who also love the ocean. All of this, along with the recognition that there is no certainty of the future. That I will have this strong body, this unfailing courage, this relentless desire to shove myself face first into these vital human experiences. There may be no tomorrow.
The instructor greets me and hands me my wetsuit. I meet the other women, and we awkwardly pull on the tight layer of neoprene. We are all nervous about the soft parts of our bodies that we push into the suits. Perhaps more afraid of the wetsuit than of the surfing itself.
We carry our boards to the beach and complete the first half of the lesson on dry land. And soon, I am walking into the surf, the cold ocean water creeping up inside the wetsuit as we wade deeper.
I study the waves. The first one comes, and I know it’s not right. The next is too quick after the first. Then there is a pause between waves. The next one looks great. I turn and pull myself onto the board. Lay on my belly and paddle with all my might. I. Want. This. Wave.
I try to pop up and fail. Tumble in the wash. Wade back out.
I try again and fail. Tumble in the wash. Wade back out.
I try again. I commit. And then I am standing on the board, surfing the baby wave into the shore. I am nearly on the beach, and so I hop off lightly onto the shallows. I am triumphant and content. I grab my board and turn around. The instructor is pumping her hand in the air and grinning at me. I can’t stop smiling.
I ride wave after wave until I am exhausted. I pick out a particularly large wave and get a cruisey long ride onto the shore. I start to get a sense of things and find a bit of playfulness. I take small risks, adjusting my position, and alternately bail into the tumbling wash or cruise into shore.
I love it.
Towards the end of the lesson, Russell arrives to take photos.
Afterwards, he says, “You know that the others weren’t getting up like you were.”
There are other parts of the trip, too. Trail running together through the rainforest. Paddling out among kelp beds, the sea rising and falling beneath me. Hiking up through the woods to a viewpoint overlooking the shoreline and the expansive landscape of islands and mountains. Wading around at low tide, a feeling of deep calm within me, as I crouch to study the anemones.
Wherever I am, wherever there is water, I wade in.