Most of the time, I feel like the girl in this photo. Trying not to cry on the shore, I’m asking myself, “Will I ever be good at surfing?”
Nine years ago I made one of the best decisions I ever made… to move to Venice Beach, CA. I had been living in the valley for 12 years and always told myself that living by the beach was a lavish lifestyle that I couldn’t afford, or that I didn’t know anyone there and would be lonely. At the time, I was auditioning quite a bit in Manhattan Beach and I would wait out the traffic in Venice, chillin’ on the sand and watching the sunset. And then it hit me, if not now, then when? I didn’t have a husband or a child, no other person dictating my location so, why not? What’s so bad about down sizing and getting a roomie? So I did it. I made the trek across town and started anew.
For the first year that I lived here, I made a promise to see the ocean at least once every single day. Even if I had to work all day, I would ride my bike to the beach at night and breathe in the sweet and salty west side air. How glorious! My dogs lived in a dirt yard, but dammit I was happy. It wasn’t long until I found a crew to roll with. A good friend of mine moved from West Hollywood at the same time, and we would go out together and tell people we were adopting them as our new friends. We found some great people including one of my best friends, Stef, and a community that doesn’t exist in other parts of Los Angles.
The first person I recruited on my own was my friend Casper. She was a surfer and said she would teach me how to surf. She wasn’t the first person who said that to me, but she was the only one who followed through. We got a little crew going that summer and were rolling 7 deep some mornings. We were all chicks and we looked out for each other in the water. I remember one day, looking at my friends and yelling “Holy Shit! This is our life!” A big wave was coming from the outside so they weren’t really paying attention. I paddled fast and barely made it to the other side.
If it wasn’t for Casper, Zoe, and Stef, I wouldn’t have gotten up most mornings. All of my friends (and my mother) know that waking me up in the morning is brutal. I’m not a morning person and well, you kinda got to get up early to surf. I powered through with coffee and fought my anxiety each morning as we paddled out. Some days it felt like someone was kicking the shit out of me, only to give me a great big hug and say “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you.” You will know what I mean by this if you have older brothers.
Once I made it to the outside, it was another deal. How to read the waves, how to take the right one and how to stand up. There are so many relationship metaphors in that but I won’t bore you with that now. Anyway, there was this moment, the first time nobody pushed me into a wave, and I got up. The few seconds that I rode the wave felt like a slow, gushy heroine rush and I was hooked. After that, I couldn’t get enough. We went almost every day and I bought a “Hot-suit” (a wetsuit w/shorts) and a “fun” board.
Then winter came. The water got cold and the waves got big. This is what separates the big boys from the posers. And Venice is brutal. My friend Stef calls them the “Boom. No thanks” waves because they’re big and closed out and they want nothing to do with you. Let’s just say, I still want their attention. I’m still not super comfortable in bigger waves. I have to be in really good shape to feel confident. But when I make it to the outside and look back at the waves crashing or my friends’ boards shooting up the air, I can’t help but feel super badass.
Being a good surfer is a long process and everyone has to put their time in. It’s true, for most people, that you have to surf every single day to improve. Sometimes, I hate that I have been surfing for so long and I’m not that good, and sometimes I love that it’s such a huge challenge for me. Still, surfing is a culture and I feel so lucky that I am a part of it. Surfing has brought me so much stability in the world of show business that can be so crazy and unpredictable. So far, I’ve surfed in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Western Samoa. Next, I plan on surfing in Indonesia.
It’s okay with me that I’m not that good at it. It doesn’t always have to be about that. It’s like in yoga when they say, “Make your practice work for you.” It’s difficult not to look around the room and check out the other “down dogs” and judge your own. But being competitive isn’t very yogi-like. I try to apply some of the same philosophy to surfing but to be completely honest with you, most of the time I’m concentrating on NOT DYING. There’s a good meditation practice for you. You can’t worry about money because you’re concerned with NOT DROWNING.
More on wave/dating analogies later! Ha!