Surfing occupied a special place in my psyche for a long as I can remember. It seems natural given my love for water sports and the ocean itself. Plus, there's no way I can live in Hawaii and not surf. I took a walk on Gili T and noticed the waves and wood boards advertising surf lessons. I always wanted to try, so why wait any longer I thought?
I woke up the next day excited to try something I always dreamed of. The instructors provide a quick lesson on how to stand up before paddling out. Paddling out tired me out far more than expected. No rest for the weary. Time for the first wave.
Take a look over the shoulder and see where the wave is. The teacher shouts "paddle!". Paddle, paddle, paddle, stand. Or, attempt to stand and wipe out in my case. Paddle out to the next attempt. Launch, attempt to stand, wipe out. I feel shaky. I have no clue what I'm doing. The instructor tells me to keep my arms forward and look forward. Keep my feet in the right position. I can't help but look at my feet.
Wipe out again. Flutter kick to the surface for air. No air. Hit by another wave. My heart races in that moment I realize I don't know when I'll breathe again. That's alright. I learned don't fight the wave. Pop up and catch a breath. No time to think. Paddle out.
Get set for the next wave. The instructor shouts "paddle". Eyes and hands forward I think to myself as I try to stand up. Something's different this time around. I'm moving forward. Gotta crouch down, stay low, and look forward. I see the beach and realize that I'm actually surfing. The water was so smooth beneath the board. I couldn't feel anything except the smile on my face.
There were a few better rides that day, but nothing has special as the one that took my virginity. I won't forget that feeling and the immediate sense of kinship with those that have and will ride the waves.