A child slaying monsters

How a surf session makes me feel like a superhero

It is windy, windy as hell. The air is warm, it feels nice when it licks my arms, but not too warm to make me sweat. I’m on the side of a tiny road a few meter from the shore, and I can smell the sea. The horizon is blurry because of the heavy haze, and the water is choppy.

If I were another surfer I’d be cursing this weather and complaining about the wind, but I’m not. It transports me to my childhood, when I used to go to the beach with mom, when I lived on an island where the wind is always blowing. Joy grows inside me just because of the warm sun and strong wind, I feel like the child I used to be. I’m going to feel like a child for a while, actually I’m going to be a child for a while. I’m looking forward to jump into the water and make a full immersion on my childhood memories. It’s going to be a great surf session.

I’m waiting for a surf buddy to put his wetsuit on. I’m getting anxious, I want to surf now! After what it looks like a century, he finishes and we make a short walk along the narrow road. I’m bare feet, and I can feel the warm pavement beneath. We reach the small steps that connect he road to the shore and we start walking down the rocks towards the water. It is nice to walk shoeless over this rocks, they are all polished, very nice to touch, and a bit hot. It is so simple, so subtle yet so powerful to touch things with naked feet. It feels raw, pure, sincere and intimate, like nature and I are connecting in a special way, as if she is telling me (and nobody else) the truth. I’m already a child.

First foot in the water: freezing cold. Chills down my spine, they don’t stop when I dip my other foot, they intensify. It’s fucking cold. I start walking towards the waves. Under my feet there’s a flat reef, covered on sea weed that feels like moss. It is like soft and grainy cushion that helps me when I jump between waves. I know there are sea urchins down there, hiding on tiny caves, so my steps are short and gentle, I don’t want one of those fuckers piercing my foot. Somehow the attention shifted from the cold feeling to touch, as I want to avoid stepping on anything sharp.

Now the water reaches my belly, and the cold intensifies, it is time to duck dive and let the cold water do its job. I lay on the board and start paddling towards the infinite rows of white water that reach the shore. From this moment I can’t recall the cold anymore, it disappears and never comes back.

As I leave the shore the wind gets stronger, more than anticipated. I have to duck dive over 10 times before I reach an area where the white water stops beating me. I’m out of breath already, but I have to keep moving. My arms are tired, I’d really could rest for a while but I keep pushing water behind me. The wind blows on the opposite direction I’m heading, pushing tiny drops on my eyes every time I move. The first ones burn like hell, it feels as if pure salt was tossed on my eyelids. After a while I get used to it and slowly, make it to the peak.

On the horizon the first set comes, it’s huge, way bigger than what I thought. It’s going to break a few meters from me, I’m worried, will I be able to hold my breath for long enough? I look up, the white water apporaches like a beast charging: it wants to kill me. I take as much air as I can, push the board down as hard as I can and dive. A few seconds pass by under water, and I make it to the other side. It turns out waves today are huge, but surfable, I’m relieved.

I paddle hard to get the first one, the wind pushes on the opposite direction, I paddle harder, it burns. I make it and stand up. It’s a wild beast and I’m going to tame it. Sliding down, at one thousand kilometers per hour, I make the first turn, and a second, and a third. With each turn I feel more and more confident, more and more excited. With every turn the beast is more and more tamed. The situation has shifted from dangerous to epic, and I’m the hero of the story.

Waves are really long, and it takes me some minutes paddling to come back to the peak after each one. Evry time I have to face huge sets, and every time I feel invincible, because I am able to defeat all the beasts and not feel scared. I realize how big they are, how I could feel intimidated but I don’t, I am brave. I spend the whole session surfing the biggest ones, and it feels amazing, as if I’m crushing the gnarliest beast on earth. I’m a child, playing with monsters, and I am having fun.

After some time my shoulders are tired, and I do not feel confident enough to continue on this play-battle. My batteries are drained after so much paddling and I can’t trust my body anymore. I feel as if the fun is about to end and I have to put an end to this play time.

I paddle the last one and head to the shore. The kid I am ages as I touch the rocks on the shore again. The play is over, I’m a grown up again.