essays by Shé

Posts Tagged ‘surfing’

Essay #49: surfista

In Love on April 28, 2022 at 2:24 pm

Fat, old, ugly — that’s what the mirror said this morning, that bullshit trifecta familiar to many women. Women? Maybe it’s a human condition, not strictly personal, which doesn’t make me feel any better as I try to insert contact lenses so I can go surfing. Fuck. Who am I kidding? Surfing is a young man’s sport.

EXCUSE ME?! Rell Sunn, Lisa Anderson, Rochelle Ballard, Frieda Zamba, Bethany Hamilton, Keala Kennelly, Layne Beachley, Sarah Gerhardt, et al. Gidget, for crying out loud. Not to mention Anke, Rose, Keiko, Jamie, Heidi, Eve, Erin, Tami, Sophie, and countless other women whose names I don’t know because we’re too busy trying to catch waves.

I feel better once I’m astride the royal blue bike, board in rack, pedaling toward a nearby break. Yeah! I’m going surfing! Who cares if I’m old, fat, and/or ugly — it’s irrelevant. Besides, to whom is that mirror comparing me, Joan Allen or Alicia Witt from a recent (to me) movie? Would I trade places with them? No. I am pedaling to the ocean that surrounds Kaua’i. I do this often. I have spent HUGE amounts of time NOT doing this. And it made me very unhappy.

At Kane’s I grab a ride out the back on a rip current, a recently acquired skill. Then I watch the water a good long time, noting how and where and when the waves break. I have a highly sensitive nervous system, which means the bod takes in a lot of information that needs processing. So I go slow, acclimatize to the environment. I have been to this particular break before, so am a bit more relaxed. I’m able to catch a wave fairly quickly, and I’m up! balanced! and peeling down the line, riding energy along the face of the wave, almost to shore. Wow!

That may not sound like much to you, but I came to surfing late. 54, to be exact, almost five years ago. Every wave is different, every break is different, every board is different, every day is different. It’s not like riding a bike on a firm road, where, once you get the gist, you’re outta there — world here I come! No. Surfing takes patience, perseverance, strength, flexibility, endurance, and access, not all of which are available to me at any given time.

When I return home, thrilled with the session, I cover the mirror with a stylized print of sea turtles. No turtle has ever told me to lose twenty pounds, put on make-up, or lie about my age. The only communications I’ve gathered from them is, “Woo-hoo! The ocean!” (Florida hatchlings); “Who are you?” (Hawaiian juveniles); and “Gimme more lettuce.” (Mississippi gopher tortoise).

May you be well.

surfista shé, photo by Jimi Valentine
Surfista Shé, photo by Jimi Valentine
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