Posted by: smithdavid | April 22, 2012

The Start of Something

It’s early. Really early. Especially considering the day. I can hear EV’s restless wanderings in the room next door. He’s probably looking up the swell – what will the first day of the New Year bring? I look at my phone – it’s seven, only four hours since we got to bed. Outside EV is yawning and clearing his throat. It’s loud enough to wake the whole house – it won’t be long before he sticks his head in and asks – ‘is jy reg (you ready)?’

On the phone is a message. It’s from her. It’s out of character and says nothing. Yet it says everything. I have no right to think any one thing about it but I do. It’s an unsettling start to the year.

Once we’re parked behind the dunes the headache and tiredness are forgotten. We are not alone despite the hour – a handful of others also pull at wetsuits and smear cream on their faces. Despite myself I am drawn back to the message – there is no doubt about it’s meaning.

It’s a tough paddle out. Halfway through all the details of last night surface: the fireworks on Kleinmond Beach; walking along the rocky path back towards the house; stopping for a while to drink some more and aim the camera at the waves. Then we’re sitting on our boards, out back, waiting.

Fireworks on Kleinmond Beach

The Purple Turtle has sprung another leak – this time the base of the zip. I feel a flush of cold water every time an unbroken wave pulses. The vest that EV has lent me does little to help.

On the beach families and sunbathers are starting to gather. But you can hardly see them from where we are. All I notice is the blue sky and the deafening roar as each wave leaves us and powers to the shore. The motion is mesmerising – almost all the other things spinning in my head are forgotten.

Then EV is screaming – ‘This one, this one, paddle, paddle, paddle!’ I turn the board, it’s almost too late. I give everything I’ve got. I’m conscious of only two things: the surging wall of water behind me and the gentle blue ahead. It’s with us, it’s gripping my board, it’s unstoppable. ‘Paddle, paddle, paddle…’ I hear just above the roar.

EV on the dunes - searching...

Then there is a rush, everything is blurred. I hurtle along out in front of the wave – the white water is behind me – this has never happened before. I try to get to my knees but it’s all too unsteady. Usually you only get one shot. But there is time – I try again. Now I’m up, standing – the speed sticks me to the board, I’m more stable than ever.

On and on I go, expecting it all to end. But it doesn’t. I’m whooping into the air. In my head I throw my arms up and my head back. There is no other thing in my mind other than sheer exhilaration. This is like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

It seems like I’ve ridden a hundred yards or more. I’m a surfer at last. I’m coming to where the swimmers are. Still I ride on.

At last it’s over – I sink into the ocean, ecstatic. All those other things mean nothing. Even the finality of the text. All that counts is my next hungry, delirious breath.

There is a powerful rip when I try and go back out. I’m too tired and don’t have the confidence to just go with it.

My session ends but that single wave was enough.

I’m already calculating how I can feel that sensation again. I have to feel it again.

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