Sunday, August 24, 2008

I almost went surfing today

One of my oldest friends offered to take me surfing this morning as a birthday present. Anyone who knows me knows my surfing obsession and the fact that I haven't ever actually surfed. When I moved to Los Angeles over ten years ago, I told myself that I would surf by my 45th birthday. Last spring I gave myself six months to lose a lot of weight, get into a wetsuit and go surfing. I had originally planned to have an all-girls' surfing party. Hire a really cute surfer to teach those of us who wanted to learn, invite all my nearest and dearest, go out to Santa Monica or Malibu, surf, have some drinks and really good food and call it a day. I imagined the pounds melting off with such an incentive and I'd finally be if not thin, well, then a little closer to what I looked like, say, when I was thirty.

I didn't lose the weight.

I decided not to have the surfing party because it ended up being too extravagant and another good friend threw me the most wonderful, beautiful dinner party I could ever have imagined. Most of my dearest women friends came and we drank and ate and laughed hysterically for hours. Thank God for friendship. The party was on Thursday night, and everyone there toasted me and wished me luck because my first surfing lesson was for the following Sunday.

Today is Sunday, and I woke up at 6:45 and left with one of my oldest friends, David, to go to Manhattan Beach. I had butterflies in my stomach and felt, frankly, sick about doing it. I really didn't want to do it. I felt self-conscious and not just about my weight. What if I didn't fit into the wetsuit? What if I couldn't get up on the board? What if I fell really hard and it really hurt? David gave me several mini-lectures about going for it, about doing something out of my comfort zone, etc. etc. He was only partly convincing and as we sat on our towels in the sand under marine fog, meaning the ocean was cold, cold, cold, I secretly wished that the surf instructor wouldn't show up.

He didn't show up.

We waited for over an hour and during the last half, I slowly came around. The butterflies had subsided and I felt alive and ready. I was finally going to do it and who cared what I looked like in a wetsuit?! I had been watching what looked like beginners paddling out into the small waves, get up on their boards and balance precariously before falling, and it didn't look too bad. The sun was beginning to peek through the thick layer of clouds, and the lifeguard station had just opened up. I watched him while he did his lifeguard duties and when I lay back on my towel with my eyes closed, the only sounds were the waves and the swish swish of his broom as he cleaned the ramp leading up to his tower. David went up to his car to check his cell phone for any messages from the surf guy, and when he came back and told me that the guy had some kind of lame excuse for not showing, I almost cried.

Am I going to make another appointment for a surfing lesson? Absolutely. Will it be before I turn 45 this Wednesday? Probably not.

And David and I had a great breakfast together, friends for almost twenty-five years.


  1. Happy Birthday to a fellow 45 year old. I wish I could say I attempted something so brave for my birthday.

  2. Ugh! I'm the oldest one commenting.
    The only surfing going on here is on the web!
    I'm looking forward to the wetsuit shot of you on that surfboard!

  3. Kathy, you saw the picture of me, except I'm wearing a bikini. That's me, with the long dark hair in the pencil drawing at the top of the post!



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