20 June 2006


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Okay, I'll say it: I want to marry San O and spend the rest of my life with it in wedded bliss. What's funny is that I didn't feel this way when I emerged from the water yesterday. I came out feeling like it was an average session, one that ended with the infamous "Walk of Death" (my term) at low tide. Yes, I'm talking about the rocks and the death of the soles of my feet. Mind you, I'm not a big fan of shoes so my feet are anything but sensitve after years of walking around barefoot whenever possible. I shudder to think how my feet would feel if they were sensitive. Those rocks are what keep all of you San O locals humble, aren't they? That's where you make your sacrifice to the surf gods, right? It's gotta be; I'm sure I bled all over those rocks. My left foot is sporting a deep gash on the sole and multiple cuts on the top. My right foot is cut up too, but not half as badly as my left. The good thing about the rocks this time is I managed not to drop my board.

The session is kind of a blur. We (meaning me, Soul Brother #1, and Soul Brother #2) didn't spend as much time down there as I would have liked. We came, I surfed, we went home. Next time, I want us to hit San O, surf, eat, chill, nap, and then drive home. But that's assuming there will be a next time down there as a family. Anyway, we were there by about 6:30. I was scared that there would be a line at that hour. Thankfully, I was wrong. We drove right in. When we parked, I was scared all over again. Once again, those weren't the nice, playful waves of the seemingly mythical San Onofre. (You know, the San O with all of the sunshine and small waves?) Those looked like the waves at the other San O, the one that scares me. That didn't stop me from suiting up. I knew I'd faced waves like these before. What I did differently this time was paddle out at the spot that was closer to shore. The last time I'd been to San O on a big day, we paddled out to a spot that was not close enough to shore for my comfort. I'd never surfed in that spot before and it wasn't the place for me to be on a big day. So on this day, I paddled out at the spot with which I was familiar, knowing that if something big rolled through it would at least push me to the shore. The paddle out wasn't easy. It took some work. I got pushed back a few times. When there was a short lull, I was able to make my way to the lineup. And I was tired! See, that's another thing about having a significant other who doesn't surf. Soul Brother #1 has no comprehension of what you have to go through to ready yourself to tackle bigger waves than you're used to. He didn't get that after a tough paddle out, you need to sit awhile, catch your breath, get your bearings, and watch the waves. Yes, I did sit there for quite awhile. I was scared. And I was alone. And those waves weren't little. It was going to take some time before I could get it together. That meant I sat and watched, not quite knowing what to go for, not quite knowing when to go. There were a few times when I paddled for waves, felt the board pick up speed, but then pulled out because I either thought I wasn't in the wave or looked down and chickened out. People started giving me encouragement. Were they doing that out of comaraderie or did they want to see if this black chick could actually catch a wave? I don't know and it doesn't matter. I felt lost out there. Eventually, two guys paddled up next to me. A wave started coming our way. In fact, I could see the shoulder coming right at me. I was scared, yes, but I was going. I had to. Who's going to respect you if you let something like that go by? So, in a heartbeat, I shut down my fear and went, knowing I would have to go backside . . . on a big-assed wave. Somehow, I caught the wave and milked it. I don't remember it. I simply remember being disappointed when it was over. I wanted a longer ride. When I paddled back to the spot, both guys nodded and one said, "That was niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice."

Okay, I'd gotten the first wave under my belt. I even lived to tell about it. In fact, I kicked out of that wave. Not a bad wave to get when people are staring at you. I only got a few more waves. The conditions were weird. The peaks kept shifting all over the place. The waves also started backing off. But you know what? I got probably the best rides of my life out there yesterday. The few other waves I did get were lefts. Yes, yes, ya'll—you don't stop . . . going frontside . . . finally! What sticks in my mind was the size of those waves!!! I can't even calculate how high they were. I remember getting on one left and turning around to see if anyone was behind me. The guy who was behind me was so high up on the wave that his board was level with my head!!! I don't know who he was. I thank him nonetheless. He bailed out of the wave since I was right in the curl; he couldn't kick out of the back and had to jump off and take a thrashing. I appreciate that. With him gone, I climbed back up to the top of the wave. Shit!!! How tall is this thing? I remember looking down with disbelief and flying down the face of the wave, watching the shoulder open up further and further. In retrospect, it was amazing. The closest I've come to something like that was at LPB. On one of those lefts, some guy hooted as I went by. And as I paddled back out, he nodded his approval of that ride. Wow!

The sad thing is that once I got comfortable in those waves, they disappeared. The swell seemed to back down as the tide started to drop. Then the wind picked up. I'd brought my fullsuit as an afterthought. I'm glad I did. I was so cold at one point that I started to shiver. The sun failed to make an appearance during the session. It only peeked out from behind the clouds once I was on land and back in my dry clothes. No matter. I once again conquered by fears and was rewarded for doing so. Those few waves I got were indescribable. Soul Brother #1 doesn't realize what happened out there yesterday. He's not a surfer. I'm not a wave-catching machine. My surfing reflects my demeanor—laid back and relatively easy going. I don't rush things. I don't force things. When I feel like catching waves, I catch them. When I feel like chasing waves, I do that. Usually, I sit and ponder, sit and watch, or sit and think (all the while staying out of everyone else's way). When I'm comfortable with a spot, I'll ramp it up and go for it constantly. However, that's not my style. I suppose I'm a quality over quantity type of person. I'll sit and wait for the better waves. I always feel like I'm wasting energy when I go for the crappy ones.

Thank you, San Onofre and the San O locals! You'll be seeing more of me soon enough. (No, I'm not quitting my job!)


At 6/20/06, 11:31 PM, Blogger beFrank said...

Niiiiiiiiiiice post. As always, your writing let's me see a part of the world that I wouldn't otherwise be able to see.

If I never said it before, thanks. I think it's cool what you do.

At 6/21/06, 10:20 AM, Blogger Whiffleboy said...

Good going, Sis. I had a similar session today at LPB. :-)

At 6/21/06, 10:37 AM, Blogger Jeffery said...

Sweet! Next time you head south let me know; it would be great to finally meet you. You picked a good spot to get catch the swell. Ponto Jetty (not too far from where you were) was really going off. Kevin and I hit the reefs and had a ton of fun, although I totally get your apprehension. Whenever Kev suggests the reefs I get this very unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's always on a swell and all I can think about are the hold downs, the tube cruches, and the inside beatings. I always leave those sessions saying I'll never surf anywhere alse though. The feeling you get when you overcome the fear and get a few really nice rides is like crack :) Good for you!

At 6/22/06, 7:47 AM, Blogger gracefullee said...

Great post! I'm glad you had such a good birthday surf. I am envious because I haven't been surfing much lately, but I'm living vicariously through you.

At 6/23/06, 8:57 AM, Blogger Slow_Polk said...

Nice Post!


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