Saturday, May 19, 2012

Well, I finally did it.

Apparently vacationing makes me LAZY! Whew! What a week. I think I finally found my feet again, and suddenly the weekend is here.

Where was I?

Oh yeah.

I'm a pool girl. I lived in Arizona as a young girl where you could find a pool in nearly every backyard. It wasn't a status symbol, it was just the norm. I swam so much and so often that I wore the skin off the bottom of my feet. My toes left little bloody prints on the concrete. I tried swimming in socks, but it just wasn't the same.

Later on, I discovered swim team. I wasn't great, but I loved competing against myself. I got a star on my shirt every time I placed or even set a personal best time. I loved the challenge of improving my times and technique. In my last year of eligibility, I swam every event in at least one swim meet. I finished all the 50, 100, 200, and 500 yard events (or meter, depending on the pool) plus the freestyle and medley relays. My butterfly races were not pretty, and SO not fun, but I finished without getting disqualified!

All that background to say that I am pretty confident around water. And the ocean didn't scare me one bit. And it drove me nuts to sit freezing in the lawn chair outside my motel room watching other people have fun in the water. You can't have fun in 63F water without a wetsuit. And I do not own one.

So, when I spotted the surf shop, I dragged my husband across the street to check it out. My husband found some cool flip flop sandals with an integrated bottle opener in the bottom. We started joking about how he could sit on the beach and pop open a few beers while I entertained him by trying to surf. The next thing I know, he had me signed up for lessons in the morning. This set into motion a series of humiliating events.

First of all, what do you wear under a wetsuit? What do you wear under a rental wetsuit? Is there any difference? If I owned the suit, I would say wear nothing, but... This is what occupied my thoughts that night before.

First thing in the morning, back at the shop, I got schooled in donning a suit of neoprene, cut for the physique of a man. Maybe it would have been easier if I didn't have hips and boobs, but I was assured that it's a pain for everyone of all shapes and sizes. I was fairly worn out by the time I got that thing on.

We ended up at the beach in front of our hotel. I sat on the sand with my instructor while he gave me the safety and etiquette lesson. My husband sat up on the berm with the camera. He didn't purchase the bottle opener flip flops, so no drink to go with the show.

I was so ready to get in the water. The moment I've been waiting for! No more just looking at that ocean water.

The ice water took my breath for an instant. Then a wave smacked me down. Whoa! Pool water just lays there. The ocean is ALIVE. If you are laughing at me right now, that's fine, but it was a pretty big revelation for this Kansas girl.

So, paddling out was fun. I couldn't stay on top of the board. I couldn't balance or find my center. My poor instructor was so kind and patient. Really, I was awful and inept. He helped me catch a wave and the board shot out from under me. And of course, it was tethered to my ankle so I got yanked around a bit, and pounded by the next waves in the set. Blasted. Ragdolled.

Here is where I got a hard lesson on ocean swimming...ready to get pounded.

I needed a little break after that and took a breather on the sand. When I headed back to try again, I was able to handle the waves better, but I never did get steady on the board. I needed help the whole time, dangit. Hanging out in the water away from the shore, trying to spot a good wave was really enjoyable. The waves were only 3-4 feet, but that looks big when you are at the bottom of it!

Let's try this again.
Without warning, my instructor decided that the wave that was upon us was good and he gave me a little shove. Suddenly I was floating, being carried, I can't really describe it. I felt the power of the ocean, but it was smooth.  I didn't want to screw up this cool ride so I just clung tightly to the board and rode all the way to the beach on my belly!

I was beat up, sunburned from the day before, and utterly exhausted one hour into my 90 minute lesson. Catching that fantastic wave was a sign to end my humiliating surf experience on a high note. If only I had known that I was not done being humbled.

I needed help peeling the suit off. Thank GOD I wore something underneath because I was SO done (stick a fork in me) that I wanted it off in the parking lot. My husband was such a good sport! By the way, it's amazing what kind of crap gets down in that suit. Yuck.

I was so glad to get back to our motel room early enough to get a shower before checking out at 11am. We were in a hurry to get on the road for a concert in LA that afternoon, and a graduation ceremony in Azusa that evening. In the room, I started to feel odd. Uggh. I guess I took on a little more sea water than I thought I did. I lost my breakfast and the last shred of dignity at that point.

I must literally be a glutton for punishment, because guess what? I can't wait to go back and try it again.


nys said...

You definitely do not want to wear nothing under a wetsuit, even if it is yours! It would rub in so many painful places.