July’s adventure was all about water sports. Surfing, to be specific! I think I may have found my new addiction. The best part is, I get to share this adventure with my niece, Emily. I feel like the luckiest aunt in the world.
I have been trying to find ways in which I can connect with my nieces and nephew. They have lived apart from my husband and I almost their whole lives. Yet, I still look for things that we can share together.
For Emily, it is our desire to be adventurous. We both want to learn to surf. We both want to learn to scuba dive. We both want to go tubing and climb mountains and hiking! She is only 13 and is willing to experience all these things with her Aunt Dee.
We took our first surf lesson together with VA Surf Sessions in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I was really calm leading up to the day of our lesson. As the time approached for the lesson to begin, I was getting butterflies in my stomach. I soon realized that Emily, too, had those same butterflies. She was really nervous but excited. I was really excited that she had joined Wes and I on this adventure.
I have always admired the ocean, the waves crashing to shore, the smell of the salt water. I grew up on the Gulf Coast and grew to love the feel of the ocean breeze. Standing there on the Virginia Beach shoreline, known as Croatan, memories flooded my brain. I envisioned myself riding those waves like the surfers do in the movies. I quickly learned, it does not happen like it is portrayed in the movies.
Our instructor was Bryson. He was extremely knowledgeable. He had been surfing since he was 8 years old. He has an opportunity to go to Africa and teach surfing once the season turns cold here. That’s an awesome experience for such a young man. Anyways, he went through all the steps of describing the waves, the rip currents and what to do if you get caught in one, and practicing how to land on the board.
It’s time to hit the waves! We get out pass the breaks and take turns riding the waves. Getting past the breaks was our first challenge. I soon realized that I needed to add more shoulder and arm workouts to my routine. I was amazed at how fast I fatigued just paddling out for the first wave event.
First up is John, an addition to our group. There are typically four people to a group. John does really well but I can’t remember if he rode his first wave. Wes is up to take his turn on the wave. He, too, does really well. After a few attempts he is up and riding like a professional. He is our “Surf Rider”! As much as I admire Wes, he annoys me with his ability to accomplish things so effortlessly. I wonder if his skateboard days has anything to do with his ability to surf so easily.
Emily’s turn! She attempts to stand up but soon falls off the board. She tries again. She is able to get on the board in a squat style attempt but not really able to stand up. I can see fear in her face as she tumbles, like a tumbleweed, to shore with waves crashing down on her. I saw her go under a wave and felt a panic inside me. She surfaces and I see she is okay. I worried that it would scare her away from trying again. We talked a little about how important it is to keep trying; to get over the fear so it doesn’t entrap your being. Even with her fear, she decided to go out and try it again. I was so proud of her for not letting fear take over!
Now, it’s my turn! Bryson pushes me off with the wave and I miss my opportunity. I try again, and again, and again. Each attempt was much the same as the last. I felt frustration creep up inside me but was determined not to let that take over the fun I was having. It is a new experience and I was determined to enjoy it to its fullest! I never really did stand up to ride a wave. The waves seemed moderate but they were difficult to ride. Like Emily, I did more tumbling and crashing into the shore line than actual surfing.
Well, the fact that Emily and I were never able to stand up and catch a wave did not detract from the extremely fun day we had. It was a blast! We laughed off the day with naming ourselves, “Wave Crashers” and headed for lunch at Waffle House and indulged ourselves with my first taste of Sweet Frog ice cream before heading home.
We ended our day of adventures with an agreement that we would get out to try another surfing lesson together!
“Surfing big waves is not an extreme sport to me. I fall off, tumble down, and come up. My heart’s racing because I’m thinking I almost drowned, and I thank God I can breathe again, but I always think, ‘What am I hitting?’ Water.”