Photo: Brendan Simmons

The Inertia

I wanted to share a positive experience today as the only female in the lineup.

Clean but steep and fast waves were breaking close to shore. A small group of about six guys — ages ranging from tweens to maybe 50s filled the lineup. They were good surfers. And I’m not great. I honestly felt like bailing after sitting in the midst of it all for about five minutes. But I also wanted to at least have a proper go at an intimidating looking wave, even if the shit-eating probability was hovering around 98 percent.

As I settled in and focused on watching the waves and preparing myself to try and nab one, I started to notice how safe I felt. I felt safe enough to paddle closer to the peak when it was my turn, which is something I tend to avoid in small, tight crowds like this. Everyone here was very relaxed and respectful, though. No brash machismo here. Everybody just quietly watched the waves roll in across the beach and the rainbow that sometimes appeared in a perfect arc. I noticed that I wasn’t the only one eating it every now and then, and I learned to not let it get the best of me so I could simply just practice.

Maybe that’s what it’s like to feel like an equal. I felt free to just quietly be. There was no special treatment — good or bad. There was nothing to prove or defend. I just got to enjoy the feeling of really being a part of it all.


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