Photo by Jessica Cometa
Too bad I have such a goofy-ass look on my face
Whereas there is no other age I would rather be turning tomorrow, instead of celebrating my 26th birthday I am celebrating my 10th anniversary with surfing. And because it is my birthday I get to write about whatever I want, even if it sounds egotistical or downright crazy.
Yes, it's been ten glorious years and I still love surfing as much as the day we met. As little tyke I walked the Cliffs or out on the pier and watched surfers with envy, thinking that there was absolutely nothing cooler than riding a wave. Of course I was right. I took a few surf lessons here and there, did Junior Lifeguards and borrowed boards of friends' older siblings, but it took me falling into the surfer crowd and getting my own wheels before I became a true surfer.
I owe a shout out to CJ and Cody Stone who surfed with me pretty much every day through high school and encouraged (teased) me to paddle out even when I really didn't want to. CJ's shredding shortboard style and Cody's cool, get-barreled-on-your-longboard steeze were my first and greatest influences. I also owe a huge thanks to Chris Wheatley, who gave me my first surfboard, a 7'8 G-Star, after he realized I had pilfered it a long time back.
I remember the good ol' days of piling as many people and boards as we could into Monica's van and heading out on all-day surf adventures in Big Mama, and ditching English class to surf with Juan. I remember feeling like such a badass paddling out in the wooly wilderness of NorCal and feeling like a local at Steamer Lane while paddle-battling with Nat Young and Ratboy, just for practice. I am not sure how many waves Dan Kingsbook let me drop in on him just to make sure I got one, but it was heaps. I remember many episodes of night surfing at Cowells (rather intoxicated), with a single beam of moonlight on a pitch-black face to guide me down the line. That was epic.
Things changed a bit when I took off sailing on Rutea. Before we left I had the vision of jumping off the boat and into a perfect left-hander, which manifested itself sooner or later, but because surfers and sailors want exact opposite conditions, it was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated.
However, surfing is a great way to make friends, and I did so, all around the world. I became one of the crew in Punta de Mita, surfing with Antonio and hanging out at his surf shop, La Escuelita, every day. In the South Pacific I had to get used to surfing with sharks, over very shallow, very sharp reef, but did so without any major scars to show for it. Granted, I didn't charge overhead barrels at Teahupoo like I probably should have, but I like to think that I am alive in part today because of the good choices I have made along the way.
Other highlights of my surfing career were anchoring off Tavarua and surfing Restaurants while feeling smug that everybody else there was paying thousands of dollars to stay on the island, watching one of the most epic surf contests ever at Cloudbreak, the Fiji Volcom Pro 2012, and of course, meeting Kelly Slater. Because I licked my hand after I shook his and got the stomach flu, I can now say that Kelly and I share DNA, which obviously makes me a better surfer. (Or is that just really weird?)
I have a bad habit of wanting to surf wherever I go -- even if it is not a surf destination. England? It's an island, there's gotta be waves somewhere. Israel? Yep, surfed it. Should I go to this historical event in Spain where a Franco statue is taken down or should I go surf with Ralf? Ha. Maybe that one was an oops. But I can't help it. I am drawn to the ocean always.
San Diego is a great place to be a surfer. There are a wide variety of waves, the weather is warm and the water isn't freezing. Yesterday at No Surf was a most excellent celebration of my 10th anniversary with surfing and (coincidentally) my 26th birthday party. The weather was amazing, the surf ridiculously fun, the company great and the sunset mind-blowing. There were a few people that couldn't make it who I missed dearly, but when half of a very crowded beach sang me happy birthday, I felt the love.
Yes, surfing has been an integral part of my life for the past ten years. It is my exercise, my joy, my meditation, my style and my way of life. It has made me life-long friendships (and perhaps ended a few), and is something I love to share with anybody and everybody. I guess what I'm saying is, come surf with me!