In the Surf

I know there’s probably something wrong about ordering an espresso drink called an “affogato” – Italian for “drowned” – before a surfing session. The Workshop in Wrightsville Beach does it so well, I cannot resist. It’s my favorite.

This summer, I have rediscovered my first love here: Wrightsville Beach. I’d been so caught up in the free parking at Kure Beach (that no longer exists), I forgot WB has the best breaks with gentle, perfect Simonne-sized waves at low tide. I even found a honey hole – a secret spot where there are waves even at high tide.

You could find me there most weekend mornings. Paid parking doesn’t begin until 9 – usually I’m gone by 10. It gets too busy and I spend far too much time in the sun for my skin as it is. Yes, I keep skipping church to be there.

It took me forever to learn: it was years before I could stand up. I still can’t drop into a wave and I know its a confidence thing: I’m out there to have fun and unwind, not land a sponsor.

Surfing has tested my mettle.

Balancing on the board is second nature now. Each board is slightly different, I learned where my body fit best; not too far forward (otherwise I’d summersault over it) and not too far back.

Proximity of my body to the board is also quite important: one time I fell off in a big wave and when I surfaced, I didn’t see my board. It wasn’t tugging on my leash strap attached to my ankle. As I was treading water, looking around for it, I turned and WHAM! a wave pushed the board into my face. My incisors went through my lip – a complete tear – and I found myself in urgent care for 20+ stitches – both inside and outside my lip. It’s no matter, it comes with the territory.

I know I’ll have goose-egg sized bruises on the front of my hips after a long session because fat likes to stick around the tops of my hips instead – so its bone-on-board, as I lie prone to catch a wave. It hurts after awhile, but I’ve learned to push through the pain – especially if a good set is rolling in.

Board rash – where the delicate skin on one’s belly gets rubbed off from the surf wax and sand – is another issue that I could easily solve with a rash guard, but it would ruin my tan lines.

I’ve mastered the pop up, going from prone to standing in one motion. It’s like a burpee, but it causes an afterglow. The instant I’ve caught the wave – it’s nothing short of exhilarating – like that moment right before a first kiss, as I move into position, hoping the wave has enough umph to keep me on a long ride.

And yet, at the end of it all, I feel the most beautiful 100 yards from land where the waves are breaking. No jewelry, no make up, and messy hair (the Atlantic is a terrible stylist) with a bikini corseted to my body. My skin is pink from the sun and my muscles are screaming from paddling and popping up to standing.

There’s nothing quite like Wrightsville Beach, the atmosphere here calms my soul like nothing else.

I love it and can’t wait for the next low tide when I’m not at work.

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