Wondering & wandering
I learned to surf when I was fifteen. Living in East London – home to legends like Rosy Hodge and Greg Emslie and surf spots like Nahoon Reef and Gonubie Point – it’s kind of stupid not to.
After lessons from an instructor who looked like sexy Jesus, I got the whole surfing foamies thing down, graduated to riding the occasional wave and started to enjoy myself. But when I was 18 my dancing took over and after a knee injury, I stopped all sport for a year and a half. Hence my being a writer and not touring world riding waves for a living. Lies. I sucked. But that should never, ever stop you surfing.
This year marks a decade since I discovered my goofy foot and Mrs Palmer’s sex wax. And besides being sensitive about my quarter-century, I’m also determined to get back in the water, even it means being a spluttering, embarrassing mess. I just pray Sexy Jesus doesn’t see me.
I paddled out with the last of my residual upper arm strength. Avoiding the back line, and all the real surfers, I settled for that pleasant space between titanic depths and toddler pools. A nice West blew and I felt confident: today’s the day, I thought, not without feeling self-congratulatory.
I slowly turned around after failing my first duck dive. My nose would survive, my ego wouldn’t. A beauty of a wave started towards me. Seizing the moment, I began to paddle. And then it was at my feet and the board and I alighted. Paddling with the fury of an angry Jack Russell, I propelled myself forward. Thrust onto the wave, we became one: I pulled myself up and for one glorious moment I was not Megan the kook, but the wave itself, blue and powerful and… It didn’t last. Just as I saw my sister laughing at me from the shore, the wave came to a rather flaccid end. My energy drained to that of a sloth and I fell rather shamefully into the warm sea.
This charade continued for thirty minutes. I almost caught two waves (seriously — I wouldn’t lie at this point!) but with only sinew and fat in my arms, I failed to do more than get on my haunches. The lifeguard cast a nervous glance in my direction. I imagined her blowing the whistle and trudging through the waist deep water to haul me out by my hair. I turned to see a guy half my age glide gracefully through the water, slicing through liquid with the finesse of a figure skater. I could do that, I thought. If only I could stand.
I admitted defeat. Faced my board’s nose to the dunes and rode a baby wave to the sand.
Post-surf my mother joined me in the water. Between my sister and I we figured she’s a goofy. She paddled hard and in spite of her terrible balance, experienced the stoke of catching a wave.
The family that surfs together stays together. Or, as my sister so eloquently corrected me: the family that tries to surf together, tries to stay together. And we’re trying. Hard. If only my bikini bottom would stop giving me the wedgie of a lifetime. Wedgies hurt.
Stoke level: 7
Kook level: 10
Next mission to the beach? Tomorrow!
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Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, spiritualist. Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book, or baking up a storm.
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