The other day, I was talking to an old friend about hobbies.
“I used to be a surfer,” I said.
“You know, once you are a surfer, you are always a surfer,” he assured me.
“Kind of like being a Marine,” I joked.
“Sure, buy way cooler,” he said.
I see where he is coming from, but I don’t feel it. A lot of life has happened since I rode my last wave. Married, divorced, military service, married again, college, kids … I can’t even remember exactly when or where that last wave was, either. That is pretty sad considering how much a part of my life once belonged to surfing.
To me, sitting in the water was a way to be in control of things for a while. I chose which wave to ride. My ability to stand up, to turn, to shred, was all up to me and how much work I wanted to put into the sport. Sometimes, I chose to just sit there and float and feel the rise and fall of the swells lull me to a sublime level of peace that I couldn’t find back on dry land. I was me out there. 100% me.
I was so immersed in the culture and the sport. I knew who everyone was, where they were from, what kind of board they used (long, short, how many fins), where their home surf spots were (Kelly Slater is from Jupiter, Florida). There were places I wanted to surf all around the world. My dream was to live on a sailboat, travel the planet and surf on every continent. I’d make money waiting tables and teaching surf lessons.
But somewhere along the way, that carefree girl with the flowing, wavy, sun bleached hair and perpetual jean shorts/t-shirt combo outfits became … well … stiff. She joined the military and no matter how hard she tried to remain true to her soul, she got caught up in the fray of a new kind of discipline.
I really miss her.
Through the military and my subsequent jobs, I filled the need for stability in my life, but I also edged out almost any semblance of that unique, carefree girl I used to be.
It has been at least 24 years since I surfed. At least, I think it has been that long. If someone put a board in my hands today, I don’t think that I would even know what to do with it at this point. I would most likely be too afraid of sharks or too afraid to get my hair wet. A good blow out takes a lot of time and effort, you know. And we have a lot of sharks here in Texas (I used to be able to name almost all of the types we have here, too).
There is a part of me that thinks if I can bring back some small part of the old me, I will find my balance again. That it could help ease some of my anxiety. I’d definitely like to find out.
Is there something from your past that you miss or that you would like to return to?
For me, I think I’ll take the kids to the beach this weekend to play in the sand. While I most likely won’t hit the waves, I will definitely dig my toes in the sand and watch the sets come in.