It’s probably not a surprise to y’all that I’m not athletic. (I’ll pause here in case there are sharp intakes of breath or gasps of shock…none?? Okay, we’ll carry on.) I will never be bringing home sports trophies or ribbons.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy sports. Or that I don’t try. I’m just not athletically gifted. I can’t even do ping pong well. (Is that a sport? Or was that just on Forrest Gump?)
My Knight and I stayed at a beautiful mountaintop resort in Costa Rica for our honeymoon. Our bungalow overlooked the Pacific Ocean, and every day we could see the surfers gracefully defying gravity along the crests of the ocean.
The check-in clerk cheerfully told us surfing lessons were included with our stay. I was intrigued. Costa Rica is a well-known surfing destination, and why travel there without experiencing what they are famous for?
I overheard a lady at breakfast telling the server she had just finished surfing lessons. She was much older than I and did not appear to be particularly athletic. She raved about the instructor and how easy he made it. She noticed me totally eavesdropping and said I should try the lessons because if she could do it, anyone could.
You only live once, right? Experience life to the fullest, right? Sign me up. How hard can it be? I have good balance. I’m able to hold the tree pose in yoga for a full eight counts. Surely I can surf.
We decided to hike the 30 minute path down to the beach because I was feeling all adventurous and outdoorsy. I was taking surfing lessons! I felt I could conquer the world! I felt confident! I felt athletic! I was suddenly Sporty Spice!
Surf Instructor Dude was nineteen, tan and fit. He said he was waiting on another couple before starting. It was a small resort, and we had met most of the guests (and given them nicknames for our own amusement). I wondered which couple would be joining us.
Suddenly my confidence and faux athleticism vanished. Remember Hans and Frans from Saturday Night Live? “We want to PUMP you up!” Well, walking towards us on the beach was the couple we had nicknamed Hans and Frannie. They were both so extremely buff and chiseled that they looked like they were carved statues.
She was wearing a cute little matching surf shirt and briefs. I was not. I immediately felt overweight and out of place. (Cue the Pac-Man dying sound here as my bravado withered.)
“I bet she can surf,” I said quietly to My Knight.
Ever my romantic hero, My Knight responded, “Maybe so, but I bet there are 500 things you can do that she can’t do. I’m proud of you for trying.” (I love that man!)
Surfer Dude explained we would be working on the beach first to learn the fundamentals and then go out on the water. That cheered me up a little bit. After all, how hard can it be to stand on a surf board that is lying on the sand????
He demonstrated how you lay on the board, put your hands beneath your chest, push up on to your knees, and then swiftly up to your feet. It looked easy. Sort of.
Hans and Frannie went first (of course). They both performed the movements as though they were the actors for the instructional video. They even encouraged each other with little, “move your hand a little farther up, honey” and “try to get your knees closer to the center of the board, okay sweetie?” Bleh.
Now I wish I was the kind of person that could have stood there being all nice in my head about this, but I guess I am not nice. Because I was actually a little bitter that they were ruining MY surf lesson. Here I was, feeling all athletic and capable, and here she comes, actually being athletic and capable, and I felt like a fumbling, bumbling fish out of water.
And I sort of resented her for it. This person that I didn’t even know, who had no idea she was even affecting me, and most certainly wasn’t intending to affect me. I was feeling all jealous and pissy about it. I know, I know….save your words of admonishment. I KNOW. I’m just being honest about how I felt, people. I ain’t saying it was right.
We paddled out and Surfer Dude asked who wanted to go first. (Did he really have to ask?) Frannie popped up on her board and raised to her feet in a swift, fluid motion on the very first try. The very first! Hans followed her, and he was up and on his feet with perfect form in the blink of an eye. They even turned back and forth to each other as they talked, riding the waves together in unison and balance and chiseled bodies.
“Next time try it left-handed, honey, just to see if you can.” Seriously? Drown. Me. Now.
Next up was My Knight. Now, let me assure you. I want my husband to succeed and excel in every single thing he tries in life. I want him to go and be and do all that he can. But I must confess that as I watched him getting ready, it dawned on me that I was quite possibly (probably) going to be the only one that didn’t get up on the first try. I panicked a bit. I admit it. I secretly and silently prayed that he would fall the first time.
I mean, he was landing in water, so it’s not like I was wishing for him to get hurt or anything. And I was perfectly fine with him getting it on the second try, so I was still being supportive. But I really wanted him to fall the first time so I wasn’t alone in my ineptness.
Wouldn’t you know that My Knight, my New Yorker, city-born and bred, hopped up on that surfboard and glided across the sea like Andy Irons? He rode it all the way to shore. I tried to smile. I tried to show enthusiasm and excitement. I tried not to puke.
It was my turn.
For the next 43 turns, it was my turn.
Hans, Frannie, and the man who formerly was my favorite on the planet all left and moved to the “intermediate” waves area. Eventually, even Surfer Dude left to help them perfect their technique.
Over and over and over again I paddled out, got on the board, pushed up . . . and fell off. A couple of times I almost felt the sensation of standing, but I’d blink and be underwater with water up my nose.
I started to cry. From frustration. From embarrassment. From anger, fear, exhaustion, and the unbelievable pain in my shoulders and back from paddling. But I was bound-and-damned-determined I WAS GOING TO SURF.
I wiped my eyes and told myself for the 44th time, “You can do this. You are strong. You have good balance. You are loved. You are capable. You are a tough woman, and you can overcome this. Now do it.”
And finally . . . I did it! I surfed!!! I stood up, and I didn’t fall. I rode and I balanced and I felt the wind carry me. I felt triumphant, athletic, strong, and capable. I didn’t care who else was surfing and what kind of suit they had on or how good they looked in it. I didn’t even care what kind of suit I had on or how I looked in it. I was surfing. I was doing that which I thought I could never do.
I rode that wave all the way in and glided onto the sandy shoreline. Then I stepped off, laid my board on the sand, and perched my butt on it for the rest of our allotted time. I enjoyed watching My Knight surf and frolic with Hans and Frannie. I enjoyed the incredible beauty and majesty of the ocean rolling in at my feet. I relished the breeze across my wet skin in the warm sun.
I had surfed in Costa Rica. For a moment in time, I was a surfer. And life is all about the moments, folks.