Surfing and my move out here draw a lot of parallels I realized tonight. I first started spitting game about this beautiful place last February, but I didn’t make the move till 8 months later in October. I endured six months of people slamming the idea of San Diego, people presenting me DC/Baltimore jobs that I wasn’t gung-ho about, submitting hundreds of job applications and cover letters, and finally, swallowing rejection for not being the chosen candidate for the SD positions I scored first and second round interviews at companies including Callaway, sales firms, a local surf company and another University. I think I’ve surfed six or seven times now and I heard you don’t become comfortable until your 30th time at least after you have been rocked by hundreds of waves and felt the right footing on a lucky few. Similarly, last year I took a few interviews, months in time span, had many a confidence boasting conversations and took even “baby steps” (What About Bob reference) to finally get the courage to pop up on my San Diego job surf board successfully in October.
So, I bought Ana Banana this past spring. Between working 9 to 6, going to grad school part time, having a light social life and unraveling more about Southern California, I haven’t paddled out as much as I would like.
I have only successfully gotten up on my long board once and it was the 5th or 6th time I had paddled out. I am obviously not adept enough to know how to diagnose a wave often, but that day, during that Friday night sunset session with my visiting best friend, Colleen, and my motley crew of three other surfing mentor friends, conditions were right. The water was glassy, which is optimal surfing conditions, I learned that day, and the push of the wave just made it more friendly to move around on your board and more inviting for a pop up. I wasn’t scared as the turbulent tide raced over Ana Banana this time like my other surf seshes because the waves weren’t rough or chunky, but rather smooth and friendly. Everyone on their way into the showers and parking lot could not stop gushing about the water’s warm embrace (despite being in the 50s in temp) for especially long board. It was fitting that I got up on my last wave I took in for the night and my friend Brian Wong was screaming “Yeaaaa Jess! Cowabunga!” as he caught the same wave as me 20 feet to my left, while I was screaming in astonished merriment.
Sometimes it’s just better to act on impulse that becomes repetition like with my golf swing…
when I don’t think about it, I crush it 100 yards, but when I try to break it down, I shank it. Currently, in my novice surf state, I’m uneasy on the board, fumbling my limbs and thinking about the 3 steps (to a pop up) way too much, but in reality, its 3 steps in 1 fell swoop and I need to speed up the 3-1 into one solid motion. Last week during a weekday sesh, I started a bad habit of getting on all 4s. Right before I started the bad habit, my former Arlington-living surfer friend Steph said, “whatever you do, don’t go on all 4s-it’s a bad habit and it took me forever to shake.” If only that idea had not been placed in my head… I only did it for two waves thankfully, so I can still shake that bad habit I pray, but bad habits in my life die hard…chipotle obsession, my sometimes sans-arc shot on the court, the incorrect way to hold a writing utensil (started in kindergarten), my sailor mouth currently.
After I went on all fours twice, I decided I needed to observe the local greats and comfortables around me and their approaches to the masterful pop-up. You learn by example and I remembered, when I took golf lessons,
my dad and my golf instructor would show me videos of textbook swings by Lefty, El Tigre, Vijay, Fred Funk (Univ. of MD Alum by the way) and a million LPGA Asian chicks I forget their names now. I felt at peace as I straddled Ana Banana in the Pacific while surveying the talent around me. As I was admiring their swift technique of the final butterfly kick before the all- in- 1-motion pop up – I was taking mental notes in surf school.
Tonight on jog along the beach, I halted the run for a few minutes to soak up a surfing lesson from a new angle. I looked to the left and to the right of me and I was just another pawn on their pensive Pacific Beach pedestrian and runner chessboard. All of the streets in this one high foot traffic part of the boardwalk blur together, but I had just mentally confirmed for the hundredth time to myself that this moment right here is one of the primary reasons I popped up on my San Diego surf board last year-for this place, for this moment. I didn’t realize that I stopped to surf stare at the street I will be moving to in two weeks. I believe in omens and especially when I am not 100 percent sure if I am making the right decision, so my break time on
Felspar Avenue, the replacement of my current Reed Ave,
verified my tennis shoe tact. A big allure of this house was that it is a block and a half from the ocean, 100 dollars cheaper, brand new and amenity stacked. Plus, the Oceano Pacifico will be cat calling me, “You know you want to. I want you to come here” and I will willingly comply to my new next door neighbor, my aquatic companion’s request to run, walk, bike, surf more since I’ll steps away, not blocks like before.
After my silent future surf-sesh pep talk on Felspar, I stuck up my jog again on the boardwalk toward La Jolla in my Nikes and Winfield field hockey jersey that no one in Southern California recognizes, but I love to pieces. After a mile or so, I nearly tripped because I was too busy watching the free natural sporting event occurring on my left on the Pacific stage once again. I found a grassy knoll and tried to do some ab work while stalking the surfers’ strokes and jotting bullet points of what to do on Wednesday when I paddle out next, but eventually, I just said screw the abs, admire their legwork. I wasn’t the only athlete who stopped their workout early to span the current currents in Pacific Beach tonight either. In fact, couples stopped kissing, homeless men seized their personal affirmations, and little tykes paused their game of catch. Collectively, yet individually, we all studied the curving boards dance on top of the waves as surfers shredded gnar with their twist of their bodies, some even landing 360s like Kelly Slater. I learned that I have been popping up too late in the game,
in the midst of the current chaos as it crashes my board and body instead of right before the wave rides over me. In one fell swoop I need to beat the rush, just like I do for big sales, packed happy hours, and
DC beltway traffic. Except this time, I learned it from my own aquatic academics and not from hear-say. That, I could not have learned from the side or behind angle I was rocking on Ana Banana, waiting in between the sets in the water last week. I needed to view that head on, face first, front row at the Surfing Show. Just like after hundreds of job applications, I was able to build up the courage to pop up into something new and unfamiliar. Hopefully, after unsuccessful catches and rough wipeouts, with time, effort, helpful mentoring, I’ll be popping up on my 8 foot Ana Banana, carving through these cold currents, just as I did with my move here.
End note: Now this is just skillful…Surfing meets skiing in Hawaii…I wish they had the film of his wipe out http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/caught-on-tape-skiing-waves-12882702
And now for a toucing surfing video, the one-armed, inspirational Bethany Hamilton teaches 6-year-old Leukemia patient, Kendall, how to surf as her Make-A-Wish-Foundation wish.http://espn.go.com/espn/features/mywish/story/_/id/6783789/my-wish-kendall-curnuck-meets-bethany-hamilton