Updated: Mar 22
The first time I surfed was magical. But also terrifying. And embarrassing. And in Bali.
I was a science teacher in Thailand on spring break in Bali for a week with my then-boyfriend. He had been in Bali for about three weeks when I got there (his visa in Thailand had expired so he was country hopping). On my first morning there we walked to Kuta Beach.
If I close my eyes, I can remember the intensity of the heat. Having come from Thailand I thought I would be prepared. I was fucking not. My shoes' sole melted that first day.
When we finally settled into our chairs on the beach, I kept glancing to my left at the surf rentals. I had told myself I would learn when I got here. But I do not like being a person who sucks at something. And having never surfed before, and hearing how hard it was, I was terrified of making a fool of myself.
My then-boyfriend had fractured his toe the week before (idiot) so he wouldn't have been able to go out with me. I was having a mild internal war about really trying. It's funny, looking back, at how much I worried.
I was scared of people watching me. Of making fun of me. Of making a fool of myself.
When I'm feeling scared about doing something, I count to three - and then I just fucking do it (that's how got the courage to ask out one of my ex's years ago). So that's what I did. I counted to three, then walked over to the surf rentals and hired an instructor.
We practiced in the sand for a bit, and I felt like a fish out of water. I don't like being a spectacle. But you know what? Literally no one gives a fuck. It was the beach in Bali, people have their own paradise they were in. They didn't care about the nervous girl popping up on a 9ft foamie.
The instructor and I went into the water, and told me how to paddle and how to position my body on the board. When a wave came, he pushed the board forward, and I remember popping up. I was hooked. That was my first wave a caught.
He was surprised that I stood up my first time, and he asked me what other sports I've done, and I told hime about the gymnastics, ballet/dancing, yoga, and skateboarding. It was like I had been preparing for surfing for the past 2 decades.
The wave was like... a foot? Less? The picture in this post was that first time. It's funny looking back now on that day, those tiny waves... and know where I'm at now. Riding 12ft+ waves, air dropping into waves, and looking to move to barreling waves next.
By the end of that week, the instructor was on his own board and we were just surfing together, party waving it up. I remember surfing while the sun was setting, and watching the purples and reds dance against the water and feeling perfectly at home.
I remember flying back home to Thailand, and seriously contemplating quitting my job and moving to the islands and surfing all day while I taught English online at night. But I have a cat, and those moves would have been on the less legal side, or required frequent travel, and I couldn't do that to her.
So now, I wear wetsuits, and sometimes get mild hypothermia because I fucking love surfing.