Taste the salt on your lips, feel the heat of the sun on your legs and the gentle push of the wave as it takes your board. Paddle, lift up, arch your back, back leg, front leg, crouch…. and stand. You’re literally walking on water, riding the swell of the sea gently into shore, passing the bobbing heads of swimmers as they duck under the incoming wave. The first time you stand up on a surfboard is a pretty incredible experience.
So, he says, you’ve quit your job and now you’re learning to surf. His skin is tanned like leather and his hair bleached from the sun. He’s been surfing everyday for the last twenty-something years. He helps me glide the foam long board through the baby surf.
It’s not quite as glamorous as that I’m afraid. I did just quit my job and yes, in the enforced holidays of unemployment, a few friends and I decided it was un-Australian of us to not know how to surf. So here we were, hired rashies, hired boards.
It’s my first time on a board and I feel clumsy sliding on, falling off, spitting out a few mouthfuls of sea water, wiping the water from my eyes with already achey arms- but when you get it, the whole routine together, it feels like nothing else. If I don’t stop smiling I’ll end up with another mouth full of salt water.
There has always been something complete about the ocean for me. I’ve heard others refer to it as well, a sense of unquenchable thirst when you are away from the sea too long, a longing that can only be filled when you see that immeasurable stretch of blue, taste the salt in the air and feel the change in the breeze.
It’s only been one lesson and I’m by no means a surfer yet. I can wobble and limp my way to a crouch, only to fall right back into the arms of the white water below, but I think this could be the start of something.