30 Days to Glory

“Karni, it’s a travesty that you live where you do and you’re not out there surfing!” utters JT upon visiting his old stomping grounds for my wedding. He’s not angry or condescending, rather he’s got the tone of a father who knows his son is too grown up to be coerced by anything other than supportive guidance. And like the obstinate son I am, a month later, I guess something finally clicks. So this Sunday past, I take to the water with the old HBU crew Derek and Coy, paddling around in beach break for about an hour before calling it quits. It had been like that just about every time I had gone out in recent years.

In 2005 I was on a mission to surf, and after a summer of watching a friend die and teaching ourselves to surf, JT and I had succeeded. Then I split my head open with my fin one rough day at El Porto, couldn’t go back to the water for a month, took a month-long trip out of the country, and came back to find I had lost both the ability to surf, and worse, my nerve. So it was, for the next three summers, that I watched surfer after surfer enjoy the fine California waves as I spent my life in front of a computer, writing, meeting and marrying a terrific woman, and NOT surfing.

That all changed on Sunday, a warm up for my shoulders but not my ego. Monday, nothing happens. Tuesday, I’m fired up when I get home after a particularly dull day at the office. I see the sun setting, and clean, tiny sets coming in. I run down to the beach, run back, grab my board, and take to the water. I fail, but being out there, especially with an amazing sunset, is a big WIN. And as my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish say, a win is a win.

This morning, I wake up at 6:40 for no good reason. But I jump out of bed and look out the window, see clean, TINY surf, and check the report on surfline.com. Ankle high, tiny, warm, and clean breaks. SOLD!

I get out there this morning, the third time in four days, and toil for about 25 minutes; even contemplate calling it a morning, going in and doing some pre-work writing. THEN, it happens. I’m out of position, a little closer to the beach than the previous 25 minutes, and this cruddy little monster 6″ (yes, inches) wave rolls up on me and off I go! I get up to knee, ride that sucker ten solid feet without rolling over. Huh. Then it happens again. The next thing I know, about forty minutes into the session, an 8″ behemoth pulls up on me and I’m in there like swimwear! I stand up, look at my feet, shocked. Can’t believe it, here I am, surfing! I ride that blessed wave literally all the way in. If I wanted, I could have taken it up onto the sand, but I think better of this…I mean, I don’t want to look like a newbie.

And so begins my September, in the year of our Lord, 2009. Day 3 and I catch a wave!!! And you know what happens when you catch a wave and start thinking about going in…you go right back out, stoked on adrenalin. So I hang out, get washed out on the next one, and catch one more wave, albeit not nearly as slick, before heading in after an hour of surfing.

Today is a great day! Thanks JT, Derek, and Coy, for watching me suffer so many times and not giving up on me. It’s gonna be a great September.

Look Mom, I can surf!