Weekend Lifestyle Columns

Geelong Today Magazine , 2014

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I often write lifestyle columns for the Geelong Advertiser's weekend magazine.

See column below and others in PDF format:

HIGH ON THE CREST OF A WAVE

It’s only 7am but my boyfriend is already copping it.
“You’ve ruined my life,” I tell him earnestly as I attempt to yank on my rain-soaked wetsuit, quivering in the 14-degree wind swirling around the carpark at Torquay beach. “I cannot believe you did this to me.”
He’s not offended and he doesn’t disagree because he knows it’s true. He taught me how to surf and now I’m addicted.
And this is coming from someone who, a mere two months ago, had little interest in surfing beyond Kelly Slater’s eyes.
I could not have guessed at a rational explanation for why any sane humans would willingly drag themselves out of bed in the dark and icy cold, pull on a skin-tight piece of rubber and hurl their bodies into a washing machine of bitterly-cold salt water for three hours.
I wasn’t even a big fan of waves on a scorching summer’s day. I liked those deep blue rolling ones where you can lie on your back and tranquilly bob up and down but the breaking waves, well, they always tended to break on my head. They scared me and I just assumed I’d never be any good at surfing.
So it was with apprehension that I waded into the water with my boyfriend on our recent holiday to Sri Lanka for what I thought would be my one and only surfing lesson.
I won’t lie. It wasn’t a huge success (although, onlookers did seemed quite impressed with the frequency in which I managed to glide straight over the front of my board, head underwater and legs flailing in the air like some kind of Emperor penguin mating dance).
It wasn’t exactly love at first nose dive but it wasn’t as scary as I had thought plus the water was warm and the beach was beautiful so after a post-lesson cocktail I promised myself I’d give it a proper go.
It was during my fourth attempt that I managed to paddle onto a wave in the right spot, hobble awkwardly onto my feet via my knees, stand — albeit straight legged and feet together — and experience my first proper ride.
The look on my face, apparently, was priceless. In fact it’s been dubbed my ‘I’m flying!’ face. And that’s honestly how it felt.
I mean that metaphorically in the sense that I pushed myself to do something I thought I couldn’t and was proud as punch. But I also mean it literally. Surfing literally feels like flying. It’s absolutely euphoric; it’s dizzyingly exciting; it’s just plain fun. And this was only in the white water of a tiny wave!
I noticed that whenever I would tell another surfer I was a beginner (usually accompanied by a profuse apology after accidently stealing their wave) a blissfully nostalgic look would overcome them and they would and say something like, ‘I remember my first waves’. I began to realise I was on to something pretty special.
Coming back to Surf Coast was a different ballgame. It’s colder and it’s rougher. But these factors have somehow made it more rewarding; akin to the satisfaction you get from working hard. And I’m getting better!
I’ve found that the physical exercise and mental energy it takes leaves me with a real sense of calm during the day. It also helps with the discipline of staying in the moment (don’t and you’ll miss a wave or take a beating) and it certainly makes you appreciate our astonishing coastline in a new way.
I have to say, I get it. I get the surfing thing. It’s really great.
So when I’m squeezing into my wetsuit in some ungodly temperature or hour of the morning, knowing my sleep pattern and social calendar now partly revolve around a surf forecast, and I tell my boyfriend he’s ruined my life, I don’t really mean it.
But I’ll need a bloody hot coffee afterward.

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