Fears Conquered (Part II)
Well, today I did manage to sleep in. I didn't get up until 6:30! Yeah, I know. Even I was a bit disappointed, thinking I'd somehow sleep longer than that.
Alright, let's talk about El Porto. I went into Sunday's session ready for a fight. I'd gotten enough sleep, I'd eaten, and I'd put my head in the right space. I also took the right equipment. If I'm going to surf El Porto when it's got some waves of size, I've got to leave the single fin at home. I'm not saying it can't be surfed with a single fin. I'm just saying that my skills aren't good enough to surf that break well on a single fin. Once again, the ferocious dog and I headed out in the dark. We arrived so early that I took him for a little frolic on the beach while we waited for a bit more sunlight.
The paddle out was relatively easy. Waves were coming through but not like they were on Saturday. The reason for getting out early, of course, was to get some space to clear my head and surf. And that's what I did. In fact, I was a bit disappointed to find the waves were smaller than the previous day. Still, I got out there alone and surfed. I didn't overthink it. I let go of the fear. I just surfed. After about an hour, I decided I'd had enough. The offshore wind was actually making me quite miserable. I can deal with cold water. I cannot deal with the chill brought on by the wind. It was also getting crowded. But then something happened. I wouldn't get out. I sat there not quite knowing what to do. I didn't want to paddle in. I'm not ashamed to do paddle in when time is of the essence. But when my time is my own, I prefer to wait for that "one last wave". As it was, I jinxed myself. There were long lulls yesterday, lulls that were long enough to allow for a dry hair paddle out. Then when waves came through, everyone was on them. I'm not comfortable with that. I took a few when the crowd initially got out there. I noticed guys would see me paddling and then begin paddling for the same wave. Then once I was up, they'd get out of the way (except for one guy at whom I had to yell "Move!" because he was paddling across the front of me as I was paddling for a wave, a wave I did get, by the way). Anyway, it got really crowded after my first hour. I was already cold, but too stubborn to get out. I wanted to surf out, yet I was just sitting there.
The problem with being black and female in situations where you're the only black and the only female is that you get a lot of attention. Sometimes it's unwanted. Sometimes it's a nuisance. Sometimes it is what it is. Yesterday, two guys in particular took an interest in me. I think they thought I was either too scared to take a wave or barely capable of surfing at all. They were both very nice and I was not at all insulted. I just get tired of having to prove myself on demand. (I once did a session at RPB where a guy was so shocked to see me up and surfing that he said, "I didn't even think you could stand up." Because he was a nice enough guy, I kept myself from saying, "Yeah. I can read and write too!") Well, now I've gotten myself off-track. I have no idea where I'm going with this discussion. The first guy, who was older and kept calling me "girl" (in a nice way), told me I "did good" when I got up on a wave and pulled out so as not to impede the ride of the guy who was closest to the curl. The second guy kept teasing me for calling "one last wave" and then being stuck out there. After a long while, I caught what was supposed to be my last wave. I mean I was right there at the shore. I could have gotten gone in. Instead, I decided to paddle back out. I wanted more. And I wanted whoever was watching to see me catch more. I got another wave after that. Again, I paddled back out. I'm not sure where the waves that followed came from. Whiff saw them, saying I swear there was 15 minutes where it was non-stop head+ waves coming through. It looked real sweet. Whiff, guess what? They were sweet. My last wave was heavy. Here I am on a 9'1" board. I start paddling for what I think is a decent but not overly big wave. It turned out to be a bomb! I realized it once the board picked up speed. It was too late to turn back. The rest is a blur. I don't remember popping up or anything about the ride. I do remember hearing someone. I don't know if I heard a whistle. I don't know if he said anything. I just remember that the tone of his voice let me know this wave was heavy. I also remember seeing the lip way above my head; the wave started closing out as I headed down the line, so I turned and headed to the shore. With that, I got out. Nothing was going to top that.
Am I still spooked by El Porto? No. Will I go out when it's huge? No. I'm not stupid. This place can hurt you on a big day. This was not a big day. It was a big enough day. I did what I went out there to do: exorcise some surfing demons.