The (real) green room

I’m gonna try and do a retrospective blog. In that I’m gonna write bout what happened Friday as if I wrote it Friday even though it’s Sunday. If I had an editor I’d have a deadline. But I’m just lazy.

Friday morning 6am. I’m off work, but I’m up at 6am. I an surprisingly happy at being awake at 6am on a day off. My eggy bread is frying and I’m still staring at psalm 24:1 for the fourth morning in a row. Partly bleary eyed confusion but mostly the sheer implication of it.

6.30 am, I’m driving past the port onto marine parade as just a hint of brightness begins to make its’ presence felt on the eastern horizon. The wannabe immortals are turning up in their suits to ocean spa (the gym), and the mere mortals are starting to pick up last night’s rubbish. I’m feeling judgemental and pass remarkable…

At 7am I’m standing on the gravel of Te Awonga beach with Jess (an ICU murse) staring across the bay with a rising sun in our eyes looking at surf that could only be described as less than nothing. It’s less the roaring surf and more a duck pond. Very pretty, but hardly an invitation to the green room.

So we bail on Te Awonga and head to south side of the cape to my favourite beach – the imaginatively titled ocean beach. And it’s crisp; the sun is glaring, dominating the horizon. There’s not even a hint of a cloud, nor even the suggestion that one might turn up later if it’s bored. This is New Zealand.

So we gear up in our neoprene monkey suits and head for the surf, me trying to look like I know what I’m doing.

15 mins in I stand on the board for the first time in my life. I am so overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction I immediately fall off and inhale some seawater. Jess graciously offers a ‘gnarly move dude’ sign from out beyond me.

I manage to repeat this a number of times over the next hour. I am hooked. Most of the time, the wave is beginning to die out by the time I get round to standing. Indeed they were mostly moving into retirement villages and getting hip replacements by the time I was struggling to lift myself off my belly.

Occasionally this meant I would be left standing on the board as all forward momentum stopped and I simply sank.

My previous attempts at surfing (all 3) were mostly on short boards, intended for actual surfers as opposed to muppets like me. The board I was using today was a long board (technical term that) or mini-mal (short for Malibu, as opposed to some horrible mini-me copy), so it was more like standing up on a small boat than a real surf board. Much easier. I’ll take all the advantages I can get.

After 90 mins we’ve been swept half a km north by the rip and my arms are burning with the effort of paddling. I am a happy man.

I spend the afternoon looking at boards in surf shops in town. I surprise even myself by resisting the urge to impulse buy one.

I buy it the next morning.

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April 2007

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