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Catching Waves

By , Shaker Heights, OH

Surfing: the sport or pastime of riding a wave toward the shore while standing or lying on a surfboard

Whether it’s a sport, a pastime or a hobby, surfing is stressful, riveting, and peaceful concurrently. It’s fairly easy to teach as well- put your feet here, paddle now, get up at this moment, the small waves are sometimes the longest , don’t catch a wave too close to shore - but it’s a lot harder to actually do and succeed. Not only does the art of surfing require intense balance, something that is hard to do on the stable ground, but it also requires strength. The learning and the thinking are the stressful parts of stuffing. No grandma could easily pop up their entire body weight while also balancing on a moving, wobbly board. The art of surfing takes skills and strength! Even as a very fit teenage girl, my body hurt from paddling through the rushing water and from lifting myself repeatedly. Additionally, falling off really hurts. Any side of your body is vulnerable to smack the water with full force and get a good pat on the back from the board. And by pat I mean slam.


From my experience, I found that surfing is kind of like riding a bike. It’s a lot easier to do if you’ve done, or at least tried it, before.  One of my first memories was the first time I rode a bike as a little 4-year old with my mom and dad. Because I was such an energetic kid, I think they honestly just wanted to reduce my energy by means of something other than them. Balancing my body on the pink, sparkly seat, my dad would simultaneously instruct me to press the white petals up and down with my tiny little feet. And God forbid if I’d tip over, my mom would be there to rush over and help me do it again until my bike stayed steady. After numerous attempts, and weeks of practice that resulted in a 4-year old falling flat on her face, my parents were always there and wouldn’t stop until I succeeded. From wiping up the tears, to throwing out words of encouragement, my parents helped me to eventually become a bike master. My bike transformed into my racehorse, well, a sparkly, pink racehorse. Without the help of balancing from my elder, my feet would petal so quickly they looked like blurs and my heart would pound so fast it would almost fall right out of my chest cavity. I’d ride down the street and up the hills, and felt so free. While surfing, my board became my racehorse, except I was balancing, no pedals nor handlebar.


The first time I learned how to surf, I had an instructor, just as my dad was there to guide me on how to ride my bike. The instructor, a 6-foot, slender, British fellow with shoulder length hair, taught me how to propel myself up onto a moving plastic board. He demonstrated the means of steering and balancing and everything of that nature. The Brit, I called him, also brought me out into the water on my board and yelled out instructions with his displaced accent, as we were in Latino America. Once out onto the sea, the Brit would wait for the perfect wave for me to ride into shore: This moment was the riveting part of surfing. The excitement of a wave I couldn’t even see yet was coming to sweep my body up. Facing shore, I could only prepare for what is to come. I felt the smaller, incapable waves passing under me until she comes to carry me and my board so delicately to shore, like presenting a precious gem to the sandy beach. The Brit had to help the waves, however. “Ok ready? Paddle. Paddle!!” I listened. “Now up!! Up!” I jumped up and one of two situations were to come. 1. I placed my feet on the center of the board, one in front of the other, caught my balance, and rode the wave all in one singular motion. Gnarly. 2. I misplaced my feet, wobbled over the board, and fell straight into a rushing wave, slapping salt water across my face. Either way, I rode/walked into shore, only to start the whole lengthy, difficult, and demanding process all over again. And for what, exactly? Well, that possible moment of standing on that piece of groomed plastic and taking in the fresh sea wind and the splashes salt water is the best part. The wait and the panic are over. I can surf.






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