Forgetting the Mile: Surfing In Long Beach

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Growing up, I've always had a sense of adventure.

From climbing trees in my front lawn, swimming in the turbulent waters in the Delaware Water Gap during the Fall season, and wandering aimlessly into the woods near Shawnee Inn, I wanted to explore beyond the boundaries that my mother deemed safe and secure. As I tested my boundaries, I became increasingly more confidant and daring and wanted more challenges. The trouble was finding friends that shared my interest.

It wasn't until I got put onto the Adventure Club by a few college friends that my daydreams to go white-water rafting, canoeing and kayaking, and paintball would become reality. Each sunny weekend, my thrill seeking friends and me would go outside and be active rather than sit inside and play video games, play cards, surf the Internet, and watch television. Other than being invited to play basketball last summer, most of my friends in Freeport wanted to stay inside or go out to the bars on the Nautical Mile.

Every time, I visit the Nautical Mile, it seems like I encounter the same scene--Guido zombies playing beer pong, wandering around in boredom to a DJ playing itunes, snickering at the shorty on the left with the phatty until it's realized that she's a whore and trouble, and craving for the signal to get the blunt poppin'. To this non-smoker, life on the Mile was becoming stagnant and all excitement was lost. I needed an escape and to take matters into my own hands.

So why go surfing? Well, there are a few reasons! I love swimming and being near the beach; nevertheless, all of my friends on Long Island (no blame here) seem reluctant in going to the beach and experience life outside their homes on a sunny day. Some of my college friends would go surfing, even during the winter, and I was always astounded, listening intently to their stories. I always wanted to join them, yet I refused to make a fool of myself trying to catch a wave. Lastly, I wanted to meet new people on Long Island that shared my thrill-seeking nature, and hopefully become friends.

My search for a surfing instructor began casually during the Fall at surfing shops in the area. I found their prices too steep (nearly $100 bucks/hr). After my dismay waned, I continued my search online and discovered Surf 2 Live. I learned there was a professional instructor, Elliot, that gives lessons in Long Beach at a reasonable rate. After seeing the price packages that he offered, I choose the group session because it was the most affordable and I could meet people that shared my interest. I tend to become less frustrated and more reluctant to throw in towel with I witness others making a fool of themselves rather than just me.

Surfing is not easy; it's definitely a challenge that takes time, practice, and having the mentality to go beyond your comfort level and what your body is telling you not to do. After exchanging greetings and names with other group members, I proceeded to struggle to put on my wetsuit and booties. We took the large long boards down to the shore of the Pacific beach. Before getting into the water, Elliot and his other instructors taught us how to properly get up on the board if we caught a wave. The exercises consisted of putting your arms to the side and leaping up quickly. It was similar to the scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall when Peter is taking lessons from the surfing instructor.

Once we finished practicing these exercises, it was time to get into the freezing ocean water. Let me remind my audience that this was a day after a thunderstorm so the waves were very rough and it was still raining. As Elliot said, "Everything's going to feel weird. Your body is telling you one thing and you must do the opposite". I didn't believe I would be warm enough in the cold, frigid ocean water; it turns out, nevertheless, I was very surprised that I was warm and comfortable and didn't need the new Rip Curl H Bomb wetsuit (e.g., the world's first power heated wetsuit). The waves were brutal and ferocious. Throughout the day, I couldn't catch one wave. I struggled to stand up and catch my breathe, make it pass the huge waves, set myself up for the following wave, stand up and surf. The other students caught a few waves, but the majority of the time, we were getting used to the surfing conditions in early May.

At the end of the 90 minute session, I was thoroughly exhausted. I walked hunch-backed through the sand with my surfboard dragging behind. Putting on a wetsuit is difficult, taking one off is a nightmare because it tightly wraps around your body to provide warmth. We shared how arduous our experience was while Master Surfing instructor, Elliot, told us not to quit and it's going to take lots of practice to become an amateur and eventually a professional.

After saying our goodbyes, I took two group members, Victor and Josephine to the train station to catch a train to the city. As we were talking in the car, Josephine told me about her experiences surfing with Elliot and Costa Rica. She told me that after surfing she usually gets a slice of pizza from Gino's Pizzeria (16 W Park Ave., Long Beach, NY). I remember going to Gino's when I used to work for Lido Beach during the Summer. Although we wanted to eat as a group, Victor was rushing to catch a train to the city to watch the Barcelona vs. Real Madrid soccer game (I can't blame him!). Josephine and I decided to go to Gino's for lunch and continue our conversation. She became my first new friend apart of this thrill seeking group.

For Summer '09, I want to spend most of my free time learning how to surf and hopefully achieving the challenge of joining my friends down by the Jersey Shore and Bethany Beach and catch a few waves.
Contact Elliot:
(516) 432-9211



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