Dorian Hargrove 8:30 p.m., Dec. 12
My buddy Charlie loaned me a 7-foot surfboard to try out to see how I fare on it compared to Old Reliable, my big red 9'3" longboard. I've been catching waves pretty consistently lately, and he suggested changing up the size or shape of the board to see if I get over my latest speed bump on the surfing learning curve. This 7-foot board is obviously well loved, with sand ground into the old gray wax and duct tape sealing a couple dings from getting waterlogged. It seems like a good board, and 7's a lucky number, right?
But right from the start, I'm not taking to it very adeptly. In fact, on Monday when my wahine roommate and I paddled out, I got the distinct feeling that Lucky 7 was going to buck me right off like a rodeo bull. Paddling came easily after I found the sweet spot on the center and balanced correctly. But catching a wave was another matter. I was dragging, working my shoulders hard, and tired from plowing through the water when I was accustomed to gliding across the surface. I managed to catch one wave, but as soon as I went to pop up I could feel the slick bull start to buck under my feet and I only made it to my knees before getting dumped face-first into a patch of kelp. Not a day that I would deem a success. But surely there must be a lesson in this humbling experience.
I was still thinking about it as I climbed into bed, and couldn't figure out what the lesson of the day was trying to teach me. Paddle harder? Pop up faster? Don't try to ride boards belonging to surfers who are clearly more advanced than you? Don't ride boards that might have personal vendettas against you?
Whatever it was, I fell asleep convinced that me and Lucky needed a fresh start. Next day: I stopped by the surf shop and picked up some surf wax, a tube of resin, and dug out an old college ID that doesn't get me student prices at the movies anymore because I look too old to pass for a co-ed. As soon as I got home, I broke out two cans of beer, my iTunes, and set to work re-waxing Lucky and filling the dings.
I figure it's the least I can do to thank Charlie for trusting me with his loaner. But really I'm hoping that repairing the dings, scraping off the old wax and giving Lucky a fresh coat will rejuvenate its self-image. Maybe it will feel a little better about itself and repay the favor by not dumping me in the ocean just as a huge set is closing in. (Jeez, you know this has to be a girl's surf blog when the topic turns to surfboard makeovers.) Actually, I'm hoping a little asthetic maintenance on my part will help me pull myself together in the water too. On the way home, I made an appointment to get my hair cut-- the same day I committed to revamping Lucky's image. After months of swimming in oceans and pools, soaking baseball hats with sweat on long distance runs, and scraping my curls back into a tight, high ponytail, my hair has basically turned into a loosely coiled Brillo pad with split ends. Maybe a mild makeover will help me and Lucky both.
Even if it doesn't and I still get tossed, tumbled, and nearly drowned, I feel like I've turned a corner on my road to learning how to surf. After a rough day at the beach I was certain I would be returning Lucky to its rightful owner the moment I got home. But after sleeping on it I realized I wasn't giving the board a chance, and more significantly I wasn't giving myself a chance. Just because something is a little dinged up around the edges, that's no reason to get frustrated and go back inside. In one short afternoon, my and Lucky's flailing relationship managed to remind me to get out of my comfort zone, deal with rejection, and paddle back out for more.