I’m in California, alone. My heart is broken and I’m here to meet many of my best clients face-to-face for the first time. I’m praying that I won’t come off as a hot mess. Luckily, I love Los Angeles. Everything about it, even the driving. This is how people were meant to drive— with purpose.
Keeping my broken heart tethered together just enough to keep spontaneous tears from bursting out is proving easier than I expected. I feel like I belong here, and I will have time to surf. I have never surfed California.
It has never been the actual paddling out and catching waves part of surfing that intimidated me. As soon as I get wet, nothing else matters. It is almost biblical. I can literally feel all my built-up negativity wash away. I feel authentically happy. I am smiling.
However, there are a lot of ‘dry’ aspects to surfing that scare the hell out of me. This likely stems from my greatest fear: being/appearing ignorant. I don’t like to not know things. In the water, I am too happy to care about looking ignorant, but in the parking lot? Forget about it. Like any sport there are things you have to learn. I was fortunate to have Brad to guide me through the basics; I can wax my board, remove and install my fins, put on and take off my wetsuit somewhat gracefully, change into my bikini in the parking lot without flashing my ass to any unsuspecting midwestern families.
There are other things for which I simply relied upon Brad: where should I surf, where do I park, what is the drift like, what kind of attitudes are in the line-up, where is the best place to paddle out, what tide is best?
The answers to these questions are different everywhere you go. And I suppose that once I’ve traveled a million places and can confidently shred, these things will become second nature and I won’t get myself all knotted up over them anymore. In fact, it is likely that I am one of a rare, neurotic breed who even worries about any of this at all. But I do, I worry.
So, I am in California, alone. Fortunately, I have been assigned a ‘surf guide.’ A friend of a friend whom I’ve never met, but who has agreed to take me surfing. On the agreed upon day I get an early morning text: waves have dropped, not sure it’s worth paddling out. It may has well have read: I’ve just killed your kitten and eaten the last of the coconut ice cream. I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We paddle out in knee-high wind chop. I wrote him back a text to this effect and waited impatiently for a response.
If Brad were here we would already be in the water, was all I could think. We would be driving joyfully down the PCH looking for the best break, listening to NOFX and just generally being stoked and in love. But nope. Here alone. No love. No stoke. Needless to stay, the temporary mending of my broken heart gave way and I watched it collapse into tiny pieces all over the beautiful polished floor of my client’s guest house. Fortunately, my desire to surf outweighs my propensity towards self-pity (I can thank Brad for that, too), so I began to plan how and where I would surf alone. I can’t not surf. I wiped my eyes, set my jaw, and logged in to surfline. Who needs men, yeah?
Fortunately, my resolve was unnecessary. Although I’m glad to know it exists. The friend of a friend, Paul, called me back and said he was willing to join me despite the fact that he wouldn’t normally go out on a day like today, “it’s practically flat,” he said. He’s obviously not from West Florida.
So, a few hours later I’m waiting in a Starbucks in Redondo Beach, feeling very self-satisfied for having not gotten lost, when up walks what must be one of our great Nation’s hottest living men over 45. And he’s going to take me surfing, I feel better already (unfortunately, he’s been happily married for more years than I’ve been alive).
With the boards in the back of my rental, we are off. He tells me where to go, where to park and hides the car key. He also tells me, “oh you won’t need that wetsuit.” I heed this advice, somewhat reluctantly, not wanting to seem contrary and in a hurry to get in the water anyway. (Note to my female readers: Let me tell you, if you weigh 100 pounds and are accustomed to 90 degree water, wear your wetsuit, no matter what the hot surfer guy tells you).
As I walk down the sandy hill and through the parking lot to the beach with my borrowed board under my arm, I think: I can do this. The Pacific ocean spills out before me, bold and blue, flanked by craggy hills topped with prime real estate. “See, it’s practically flat.” Paul says, but it looks perfect to me.
In the water, I am instantly happy. I am a happy little icicle. No heartbreak, no fear, no worry. Only smiles.
I can do this.