On a Local Motion 8-foot tank at the Queens break in Waikiki. Circa 1985.
@postaday 253; #postaday2011.
When I first came to Hawaii back in 1981, I had no desire to learn how to surf. But when the pattern developed of my accompanying a boyfriend to the beach and getting parked there with the STUFF, I rebelled. What the heck? I love the ocean, I don’t like to just bake on a beach towel! So I learned how to surf.
My first surfboard was a long 9-foot Morey soft board, called “The Maxi Pad” because it was so absorbent. But it was also slow, so I was able to get up quickly and ride the little waves. It wasn’t much for maneuvering. Within three months I had a real surfboard, a little mini tank nose rider that mysteriously disappeared out of the Waikiki surf lockers. I’ve had several boards since, and I still have a really old board I got back in the ’80s, shaped by the late Buddy Dumphy.
Letting my girls hang out with my board in Maunalua Bay, circa 2008.
In the 1980s I worked graveyard shift for the USAF and then for Kaiser Permanente, which freed up my days for surfing. If I didn’t have any money, I could still go surfing. I had the board, I had the wax, I had gas in the car. I made friends in the line ups off Waikiki, Ala Moana Beach Park, and Diamond Head. I’d head out with friends to the North Shore for sessions at Chun’s Reef and Laniakea, fondly or mockingly referred to as the “townie” breaks on the North Shore. Funny. Friends on Kauai call all of Oahu “Town.”
Learning to stand-up paddle board, circa 2009.
Here’s what I remember. Sitting in the lineup, waiting for waves, and gazing at the Honolulu and Waikiki skylines. Imagining what it must be like not to surf every day, to work in an office building, to work all dressed up and to only get to look at the ocean by standing up on my tip toes and looking over my cube wall, like I do now. I imagined how sad I would be. But I’m not sad. Not now. I miss the surfing, I miss how good I got at it, I’m not as quick as I used to be. It’s quite possible that pocket of 10-15 years might be what I have as my “Surfer Girl” years. It’s a fine memory. It’s OK that I surf so rarely now.
Even the littles like to hang out at the beach.
Back then when I was a surfer girl in my 20s all I needed to do was make rent and pay the car loan. I had my share of crap back then. Somehow I survived. Surfing was a great way to make friends and to relax. Surfing was for the girl who didn’t have to take care of anyone but herself and a cat.
I haven’t surfed since before the 2010 Achilles tendon accident. Prior to that I had just gotten a stand-up paddle board to SUP around Maunalua Bay. I love the ocean. I love being on the ocean. I love seeing the ocean whenever I want. I still have the surfboard I got on Mother’s Day 2004 and I have every intention of getting back on it again.
What else do I remember? I remember when I was a 20-something surfer girl there were a few old ladies in the lineup, too. Sure, there were the beach boys and the old guys who were the original SUP riders, but I couldn’t get over the old ladies. They were wrinkly, they were on old bruised tankers, they were carefree and happy to ride ankle biters because those were the easiest waves when it came to getting up on their feet. They were a little creeky and bent over, but they smiled. I remember them, surfing at Canoes in Waikiki with the sun setting behind them, the air getting a little chilly, a key fob on their bathing suit strap, a little towel resting on their slippers above the shore line on the sand.
At the end of a late-afternoon surfing session, you linger where the warm water meets the cool sand and the chilly air. You look back, you watch the sun set, you look up and see the first sparkle of stars, you see silhouettes of friends paddling in. You always think you’re going to go back out. You just never know how long it might be before you get that chance again.