One of the great enduring passions of my life has been surfing. I’ve surfed off and on since I was in my teens. My father taught me and we’d scour the weather reports for tidal surges during hurricane season in south Louisiana, waiting till the waves came. The Gulf of Mexico is like a tepid bath, calm, warm and blue-green most of the time. We chased the storms to ride the waves, cruising over to Pensacola or Destin, Florida to ride the wild surf.
I loved surfing. It was by turns like dancing with the ocean and carrying out a battle. I felt powerful, warrior-like when I surfed. There was just nothing else like it.
Years later after I married and had children I stopped surfing for a long stretch. My turns on the board frightened my husband and he made me promise I’d not surf or teach surfing to the kids while they were young. It didn’t help that this is a sport where even the pros sometimes have a ride that ends in death. Add in the disapproval of the church and other believers and I shelved my surfing for about 13 years.
But once my son turned 13 and my baby, my daughter turned 10 years old I started surfing again and undertook teaching them as well. We’d pack the car and head out to Virginia Beach or up to Ocean City for a day or two all summer long. I treasure those days still even if I had to sneak around and not breath a word of my unladylike rebellion to anyone at church.
We spent a week in Florida that first surfing summer, on the Atlantic side, arriving a day or so after a minor hurricane had passed through the area. The rough waters of the Atlantic were a little extra intense that first sunny day, so I cautioned the kids and out we went. I remember I was teaching them about surfing etiquette, how to determine who rides the incoming wave and calling it if you’re going to ride it.
Because of the rough waters, the waves coming in were a little bigger than normal so the first really huge wave I called as mine, paddling rapidly to get on it for a great ride.