I was kind of a bitch about going surfing. As in, “I am going surfing and anyone who tries to stop me will bear the full force of my wrath.” Because it’s been so long. Because this month has been so filled with tension and worry that I’m walking around with my shoulders up around my ears from stress. Because we were looking at one day with not only sunshine and south winds, but a marine forecast of 5-6 feet before the ocean was predicted jack back up to 15-18 feet. Because I have been doing everything for everybody and cannot maintain this level of servitude, much as it’s been necessary. Because it was Saturday and I had the time.

Essentially, stay out my way and no one will get hurt.

Some commitments couldn’t be changed – specifically Nick’s midday baseball game, which was just fine – so by the time I added to the line of trucks fronting the dunes at the jetty, some southeast wind had turned on. Which, if we must have wind, is the wind one wants for that location, but I worried about struggling against it on top of my general fear of how my never-great surfing ability had rusted from disuse. Quite a crowd out there, too.

Best not to think too hard, just get the wetsuit on as fast as possible.

Waxed the 7’6″ BK – surfing tastes like salt and smells like crayons – and stepped into the rapidly retreating ocean an hour before low tide.

Funny how the initial shock of cold on my hands as I paddled along mussel-covered rocks felt like coming home. I have been here so many times before. I know the shape of the rocks and the path to the outside. Familiarity bred content as I took my place in the line-up, nodding at the familiar, neoprene-lined faces.

Hi. Yes, it sure is pretty out.

Watched a couple guys surf a couple waves better than I probably ever will. Admired the graceful lines of one, the ability to sink back into the tube of the other. My heart pounded a bit. After one of the longest surfing breaks of my life, would I remember how to do this? Better to find out sooner rather than later and whaddaya know here comes a right that is perfectly mine.

I caught it easily, pushed up to my feet more slowly than I would’ve liked, rode till the short burst faded out. Nothing spectacular or even special really – but I’d caught a wave. The dry spell was broken.

And then a left and then a steep right on which I pearled and then another right on which I popped up faster. And then another right I doubted I could make but had to try for as BL had hollered, “Go, Jen!” With spray blowing in my eyes and the lip of the wave about to break, I somehow ended up on my feet exactly where I needed to be to keep the nose of the board from going under, instinctively swung my arm in the direction I needed to go and zoomed toward the jetty, rose back up to the crest of the wave, back down, so simple and yet my body sang with joy.

Corny, I know, and a viewer focused on me would’ve noticed nothing but perhaps a less graceless ride than the ones before. Well, that, and maybe a certain exuberance radiating from my grin.

Caught some more, wind picking up, vision blurring as the salt crusted over my contacts. After one wave, I’d hopped off my board to stand for a moment, the ocean shallow from the minus tide. A gust blew my board off the water’s surface, nearly sending it into my head. On the next wave, I took off too late, ended up pitched and spinning. The force pulled my hood off, yanked the scrunchie from my braid. I spluttered to the surface, hair plastered all over my face. As I pushed it off my eyes, another wave loomed. I clambered on my board, meaning to belly over toward the channel for a better finish, but ended up so close to shore, getting out seemed the more reasonable action. Even with the wipeout and my still evident need to regain my groove, the session left me flushed not just with 53 degree water, but a sense of success.