Crybear Comes Out

Today was one of the prettiest days we’ve had all winter.  The skies had cleared from days of rain and the temperature had warmed up into the 60s.  I had watched the swell charts all week and a hopeful bump on Friday remained a constant promise.  So I was determined to kick off early and go surf.

Around 2:30, I skeedattled out of the office and grabbed my board and wetsuit.  I decided to take Olive because I had been practicing my shortboard pop-up and was getting better.

Once at the beach, I hastily unpacked the board, yanked up my wetsuit’s zipper and tugged on my booties – I couldn’t wait to get down to the surf!  Just then, I heard a car in the all-but-empty parking lot and I turned around to see Ted driving up.  I was delighted!

He just came to watch and I was so excited that he was going to see my first ride on the board he gave me for FamilyChristmas!  However, as we walked up the boardwalk, I began noticing how windy it was.  When the surf came into view, we saw that the wind had whipped up the gulf to the point that there was no clean form to the waves – just chop, whitewater, and a lot of churn.

It reeeally wasn’t the best of surf conditions and it certainly wasn’t a good day for giving Olive another shot.  But the wetsuit was on, so I was committed.

That’s the rule.  When I have children and their ski bibs and jackets are on, there’s no chickening out at that point, they’re slapping on the skis and getting in line for the chair lift.  When that zipper’s up, it’s up.


Ted quietly marveled at my bullheadedness as I surveyed the best place to paddle out.  Then I strapped on my leash, picked up my board, and walked with purpose into the water.

Yikes!!  It was cold.  Even with the full suit and booties, it was suck-the-air-right-out-of-your-lungs, cold. As much as I dreaded the thought of lying on my board, where the water could freely wash around me, I had no choice but to hop on and paddle out.

The waves were coming in from all directions.  There were no defined sets (usually waves come in threes), they were just mashing up against each other, creating a lot of white water.

When I got out to where I thought I could start catching waves, I sat up on the board.  Within seconds I spotted one that I thought would do.  So I lay down, paddled a few strokes and popped up.  Ok, not true.  I tried to pop up.  The board shot out from under me and I went tumbling into the fridged water.

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It was so cold that I gasped, and I quickly clamored back up onto my board.  I tried to select my next wave more judiciously.  I focused on recreating the pop-up that I had so diligently practiced for weeks and thought I was getting better at.

As I waited, I began noticing the fact that my feet were going numb and my hands weren’t that far behind.  I tried to circle my legs under the board just to keep moving, and I rubbed my hands together as if over a fire.  My hair was a cold mop tangled around my neck and I was wearing out from the intense shivering.

Just then, I saw a wave pressing up from the southwest and I thought, this is it – this is going to be my first ride on Olive.  Four strong paddles, hands to the board, quick pop up and I’m up! I’m on the board!!!  Only, oh, the wave rolled up under me…and now I’m losing my balance.  Back into the water I went.

The worst part wasn’t the cold, watery death that I decided I was going to have that afternoon, it was the fact that just before I plunged back in for oh, the third time, I saw Ted (and his Cheshire cat grin – unbelievable that I can see that from out here) with some bystanders watching me from the beach.  Oh good, an audience.

Again and again, for what seemed like an hour (though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t more than 20 minutes) I fought the waves, I fought the wind, I fought the lack of an extra six inches of my board, and they all just fought right back.

After my second-to-last failure, I let out the guttural yell that I hadn’t unleashed since the cracked rib incident back in the fall.


This sucks.  My board sucks.  The waves suck.  I suck.  I’m evidently NOT meant to be a surfer.  Finally, I allowed Mother Nature to have her win and I paddled/drug my board in.  Ted was still grinning as I was walking up because even though he knew the dramatic scene that was about to unfold, it must have been soooo worth it to see the hilariously pathetic show I put on in the water.

“Hey baby!” he greeted me.

“Well that was a waste of an afternoon,” I replied leering through my icy hair plastered across my face.  “I’m so glad I took off early!”

See, I’ve been told recently that I’m allowing myself to be “consumed by my work,” and I’ve heard the word workaholic used to describe me more than once now.  But up until this job, I thought “workaholics” were executives who wear $300 shoes and sport blackberries on their hips.

Smart Phone 003But I neither am an executive, nor have $300 shoes – and my clamshell of a phone was $19.99 when I bought it in 2009.  I just have a, you know, work ethic, so as my work continues to grow, taking off early can be pretty tricky.  But I’m not allowing my job to consume me!

Back to the beach.

As I huffed my board – and my attitude – up the sand, I realized how exhausted I was.  Even with the seething rage that normally gives someone super hero-like energy, I was utterly spent.

So I did what any reasonable, almost-30-year-old does; I dropped my board, then my body, onto the sand, and crossed my arms over my face.

That’s when it happened, that’s when Crybear came out…in full force.  With the ridiculous tears coming out of my eyes, I dramatically uttered, “Why does everything have to be so hard?  All I wanted to do was ride one wave!”

It was so sad.  I knew it was sad…which just made it sadder. Standing over me with his rolled-up chinos, Ted didn’t really know what to say, though I’m pretty sure he was trying not to laugh. Instead he reminded me that I almost got up “that one time” and told me how impressed he was that I was willing to get out in that water. He thought it showed heart.

Bless that man.

So we talked about my placement on the board and ended up working on my form.  Before I knew it, I was practicing pop ups on the beach.  The blood had returned to my extremities and the sky was beginning to pinken with the forthcoming sunset.

Today was an ok day.

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