“I think we should take surfing lessons,” Mike said.
I lowered my book, which I’d just opened, and looked over the edge of the pages. I was wearing sunglasses at the time. “Okay.”
“They start in five minutes.”
“Well then,” I said, closed the book, and got up from my lounge chair. Ten minutes later, I was standing in the sand, hands on hips, listening to a man who looked like a cross between my father and the Great Santini explain to me how to get up on a surfboard. Before that, I’d never touched one, much less gotten on one, paddled out into the ocean, and stood up on it. I was going to do this?
Yes, I was going to do this.
I was also going to fall down a lot, but he’d told us the proper way to fall down into the water. In fact, I fell down every time I stood up on the board. For an hour, I got up, fell down, paddled back out, and sat on the board waiting my turn to be pushed toward shore as another wave came in behind me. The only time I didn’t fall down was when I felt the wave fizzling out beneath me as I was kneeling on the board, preparing to stand, and I lay back down and started paddling back out.
“Why didn’t you stand up?” the teacher asked with a laugh. Why, indeed.
One of my favorite parts of the whole process was waiting while Michael took his turn. Facing toward the waves, I sat up on the board and looked around, just enjoying the experience of bobbing up and down on the water with no particular place to go in any particular hurry except the shore. I think I could have done that, and the practice, all day.
But eventually the hour ran out, and we had to paddle back to the beach and put away the surfboards. If we lived near the ocean, I think I’d sign up for surfing lessons.
A few days later, on another stretch of the beach, I was reading another book and looked up to see a man giving his eight-year-old daughter surfing lessons. She did better than me.