My 30th birthday brings all kinds of surprises, including two days at the beach on the northern surfing town of Mancora. Swimming in the ocean and venturing the unpredictable waves, my colleagues, Gina, Fiorella, and Andrea are eager to test the waves with a surfing lesson. My supervisor, Ibada, decides to join them and before I know it, they’re suited up and ready to go. I wait on the beach, hesitant to tempt a surfboard to overthrow me as I strain to understand my instructor calling out to me in Spanish. The next day, however, I put my caution aside and recall a list I made of things I wanted to do before I turn 30. “Learning to surf” is on that list. I have no excuses now.
Testing the surfing techniques with a surfboard in the sand I know this will be much more difficult in the water. Practicing each step I know the excitement will get the better of me once I’m in the water. My excitement builds even more when I meet the surfing instructor helping me in the water. Damn. He’s cute. He´s so cute it makes me nervous enough to forget his name. If there were ever a time to test my self-consciousness and timid nature, it’s this moment right now. I can’t worry about looking like a fool in front of this guy. Before I know it we’re out in the water as he wraps his arm around the board, no problem.
It doesn’t take long for my self-consciousness to come to a stop as I lay on the board and ride the waves. It’s a good thing my instructor is here. Having to paddle my arms and pull myself through the water by myself wouldn’t get me far. Now I know why surfers are in such good shape. As he pushes the board into the waves, he calls out, “Get up! Get up!” It takes a couple of times for me to manage to do this, and soon I decide to forget every step we practiced in the sand and just jump up. SUCCESS. My accomplishment feels great, until one wave traps me under. Grasping for the surface, my lungs swell for release. Flashbacks of being tested to see how long we can hold our breath in swim class appear in my mind. I was always the first one out of the water. Watching movies of people trapped under water I often think, “I would be dead by now.” I refuse to die on my 30th birthday. That’s all it takes for me to get out.
Popping out of the water, my instructor apologizes. We take a break as I cough on the salt water. I realize if I can survive this, anything else is possible. I forget how cute my instructor is and realize he’s been staring at my butt and occasionally watches me adjust my bathing suit bottom as I climb on the board. I’m past the embarrassment, so let’s go take on some waves! Later I recall the other instructor’s name, Nemo. Turns out I was always safe, no matter what, because there was a fish watching out for me out in the vast, open waves. I can always play it safe on the ground or see if I can fly. I’d rather stop wishing, “What if I had done. . .” I survived my 20s, I can take on the rest of my life. Perhaps you’ll join me, a Surfer Girl, out in the ocean.