Faded desires

I wake from my afternoon nap in a panic. The late golden sun melting below the palm trees, the wind creating dancing shadows of jagged palm fronds across my turquoise bed sheet. The scent of smoke from a nearby fire drifts through the cracked window, reminding me of the many remote and tropical islands of which my younger self ventured through.

Suddenly, all of my surf trips flashed before my eyes. That was it. No more of those wild days. But then slowly, panic gives way to acceptance. A giving way that has been weaving its way throughout my mind for the past couple of years. A feeling that was certainly not always easy to grasp. 

In the very moment of exploration, I know I made the absolute most of it. I couldn’t have lapped up any more of it had I tried. Though, coming out of the other side of filling everybikini body spare moment immersed in the ocean, it’s a relief to not be 100% engrossed in it anymore. It’s a making way for something even greater. 

My cup has well and truly overflowed with fullness for all the waves I’ve been privileged enough to ride. As I write, I sit with my mug of liquorice tea, while the first of the winter swells grace the shores. My rusted bicycle recklessly leans against a tree trunk from my early morning surf check. One where many hungry surfers lined the carpark, frantically getting into their wetsuits, eager to steal even one great ride. And yet, I felt a great calmness as I cycle away, no longer having that burning desperation to be out there. 

It was only a few years ago that I would punish myself for missing even one morning surf. The times when I did surf early, I’d then need to be out there in my lunch break and again after work. A complete and utter obsession. 

Now, a mysterious anticipation lingers in my mind. An anticipation for the next chapter to come. Curiosity tends to hijack many moments throughout my day; how great it must be on the other side. It must be something pretty incredible if it’s going to be any greater than my love of surfing.

Of course, this passion for surfing is never going to vanish and it will always remain a key foundation. 

Rather, there’s some kind of interlude playing out. 

A slow burn. 

There’s no longer a fearful clutching at something that feels like it’s slipping away. In recognising the need for that interlude, alluring visions flash through my mind. A tiny hand in mine, small and clumsy steps, wide and sparkling eyes as we slowly make our way around the edge of a remote island.

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Why women were born to surf.And have babies

I recently caught up with a pretty special lady that I met through a mutual friend out in the surf. We each shared our vastly different experiences coming back from Indo trips over the years. Let’s just say her Bali belly was of a different nature to that of a non-refrigerated plate of nasi goreng.  In fact, she’s the only women I’ve met where I’ve recognized the striking connection between surfing and childbirth. I was rather intrigued by her sophisticated transition from a lady surfer to a baby’s mamma. As we sat over lattes at her local beachside café, she gracefully caressed her now six-month old, revealing her lavish smile as she retells the most defining chapter of her life.  

And that’s where it struck me. We jokingly made mention of our cupcake baking besties and their direct experiences of childbirth, and how they differed from those that she knew as surfers. The environment is more of a rough, testosterone filled line-up, where your cute bikini doesn’t mean much in the often dog-eat-dog habitat. And no I’m not talking about the dance of male pursuing female, although I now see it reads alike. I’m actually referring to all the risk factors of surfing, and how it’s a few notches above a mild burn, off a torn oven mitt pulling out that tray of freshly baked cupcakes.

She distinctly remembers hyperventilating on her hospital bed as the nurses attemptedhealthy living to relieve her immense pain with a gas mask. Through belts of laughter, she explained how she ran for the hospital door, ripping out all of her monitors, screaming ‘I can’t do this! I’m leaving!’ as the nurses ran after her.

After realising there wasn’t any going back, and the birth was in fact happening, like right now, she managed to calm her mind, and in turn her pain, from a very different source. One that’s not available in your regular hospital medical cabinets.  She vividly sketched the surface of a calm ocean surface in her mind, breathing deep as she remembered the silky feeling of a summer’s sea caressing her arms and fingertips, as she carelessly paddled through the line-up.

In describing surfing, she explained the all too familiar burning sensation of shoulders and arms, as you desperately desire that one perfect wave. The lifetime of deep fin slashes, bruises, burning reef cuts, jelly fish stings, infections and all other aspects of surfing that seem to add a coat of armour, to what could have been a life baking cupcakes. Not that we hold anything against our cupcake baking queens.

She was of the firm view that women who surf have a higher pain threshold. But I think32204_400218545167_814411_n it’s much deeper than a physical element. Mentally we hold those magical moments out in the ocean in the forefront of our mind. Often drifting off into daydream, far away from our current reality. And I know how much of a lulling effect that has upon flashback. I think the power of the ocean continues to live within, no matter how long it’s been since your last session.

I’m sure there’s that special kinship of once developing in the wound of salty fluid yourself, and that connection to the salt water as a surfer. Something I’m yet to describe in words. As for surfing with a young baby, constantly craving mum’s presence, I’ve never seen a girl so excited to get out into the surf at any given opportunity. It just makes me smile so big. But she just knew in her heart when she was ready. That pivotal moment when she realised there was something bigger to life than just surfing. As for the link between surfing and pregnancy; does it make us invincible? As much as we like to think that, I’m sure nothing will compare to the pain and challenge, we’re just equipped with a certain set of coping mechanisms, that are as unique as our salted gills, absent in our non-aquarian counterparts.