After we got past the jetty, we put down our stuff (none for me - I carry nothing but wetsuit and board) and went through the getting-ready-to-surf ritual; roughing up the wax with a wax comb, stretching a little, hefting the board and eyeing the wind, the waves, the crowd in the water.
There were quite a few other people out today - not surprising for a Sunday afternoon. The waves were slow and low, but still pretty juicy. Getting in the water, the cold was shocking. I've got a shorty wetsuit, and today it would have been nice to have long legs, at least. I jumped right on the board and paddled out - much easier this time, the waves lower and easier to get past. In no time I was out bobbing up and down on my board like a lazy otter, with a weather-eye towards the horizon, looking for the subtle signs of a good set of waves. I don't speak the language of the ocean well enough to understand her most obscure hints, so as often as not I'm looking to see what the people around me are doing.
Still, after a while of just sitting there, I decided I was just too far out. I caught a lazy roller back in, too slow and not cresting to get up, but it brought me back in to the mid-range. There I started to finally catch some good waves. It's still a struggle, the motion of popping up is not muscle-memory yet, so if I haven't timed it just right, I'll generally pitch off to one side or the other immediately. Even so, I stood all the way up, caught some waves.
I watched Chuck and Chuck hit the same wave just right, and as they were whooping and rolling in, they steered close enough to each other to do a high-five just before they lost momentun and did a slow fall off the back side, away from each other. It was easily the most awesome thing I saw all week.
And then it happend. I caught one just right. There was nothing rushed or unsteady about it - the wave was coursing towards shore like horses eager for the gallop, and it wanted me to come along for the ride. The board was as steady as the North Star under my feet - I climbed up lazily, and rode it in. For a moment - just for a moment - I had Mercury's wings on my ankles. I flew over the water, soaring along inches above the surface. Steady, serene. It was not thrilling. It was not exhilirating. It was, however, simply amazing. I took a header off the board, stayed under and let it wash over my head. I came up not whooping or hollering, but just thinking, "Ah! I get it now! This is why they're out here every day!"
For just a second there, the Pacific was my best friend, taking me for a ride. "Hop on my shoulders, I'll carry you the distance.", she says. She is stronger by far, steady, tireless. The ride is uplifting. I was flying, and it was effortless and beautiful.