Wrapped up deadline last night, leaving for SF in a few hours, found time to surf in the middle.

Conditions: almost Jen-perfect. A few too many people, which inhibited me from catching waves not because anyone froze me out, but because I become more inhibited around so many surfers better than me. I would’ve taken a foot off the sets, too – and then, perfect. Or reasonably close. Some people, who have spent time surfing in warm water that doesn’t hide currents that sweep you halfway up the beach the moment you stop paddling, may shake their heads at my use of “perfect” to describe surfing in a bone-freezing ocean in continuous rain.

Once again, I was faced with the gap between what I imagine doing when I’m not in the water and what happens when I’m actually out there. For some reason, I missed every left I paddled for. Too far back on my board? Too weak? Too uncommitted? Am I in yet another phase when I can’t go left?!

(Quick rhetorical question: Why the hell, when I get up early to write, do my children decide this will be the day, too, that they get up and downstairs before 7 a.m., muttering aobut one thing or another, complaining about the weather and having to go to school? “Do you need something from me?” I ask, turning up some music to drown out the people-noise going on behind me. My exasperation must’ve surfaced in my voice, as Chelsea responded, “From you? No,” and returned upstairs.)

Besides the go-left failures, I had a solid wipeout – even bruised the back of my hand – some so-so rights, and even found myself spun so violently when caught inside, a wave of nausea hit me along with the actual wall of water. Fun stuff, but I knew going out, I was committing to getting worked – and welcomed it. How else would I get back in shape, remember how to take getting beat up as a survivable matter-of-course?

Because this was the thing: I caught that wave, the one that makes it worth it. Funny how those mere seconds make an hour of cold and struggle worth all the trouble, but they do. It was a right. I love Jetty rights more than just about anything in the world. The drop happens – quick! – and then it’s like I’ve been slingshot down the wave. Sometimes, the whole ride is about not falling off, but this one, I was solid, in control. To the average person watching, my efforts lacked the skill and flashiness of zippy cutbacks, the drama of ducking into a tube, but from my perspective, the lean into the wave, the drift back to the top, the zoom back down, these simple lines created a picture of grace in my mind, a place where for a moment, I was able to reside.