When I think about how one decides to start surfing (especially at 40), it makes me
think about how we initially develop our sources of interests, and more importantly, who is responsible for that exposure? The answer of course is whomever raised us.
Whether it’s mom and dad, or just mom or dad, or someone else, those people are to be given credit for our life’s foundational interests. Even though surfing wasn’t something my mom or dad introduced me to, it was my mom who taught me to explore and find new horizons in life, because in her bohemian free-spirited mind, “Why the hell not?!”. I wrote this, in honor of Mother’s Day to say thank you to my mom for planting the seed of surfing in my head without even knowing it.
My mom has been to so many places in the world, that she should have her own
map with dots all over it that says, “Definitely go here”, “Go here, but don’t order that”, and “Don’t go here unless you want to be found dead in a gutter.” She’s been everywhere and could tell you a story about anywhere. She’s the “Woman to Map”. Until I was seven my mom was married to my dad. The things I recall most vividly when they were married was my house (the house my dad bought 3x- once for himself and twice from his ex-wives). I also remember a lot of camping trips all over the West, and I remember the fights before thedivorce. Once they were divorced I remember being relieved that I had two houses, one parent in each that didn’t argue, and my sister Karla for support.
After the divorce, I remember how badly I missed my dad when I wasn’t with him. My
dad was my best friend and confidant. He was always calm, he didn’t yell and I always felt protected. He was my Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. My mom on the other hand was tougher (although the love was always there). She was the one who had to discipline us. There has to be a “mean parent”, the one who set the rules, who exposes us to the unpleasantries of life, and teaches us the lessons that have to be learned to become a competent adult. As an adult I see that my preference for my dad wasn’t exactly fair or kind.
As years passed I grew to understand that both my parents played roles in the good and
bad of what parenting meant. I realized that I never gave my mom much credit for the role she has played, and that role was big. My mom never played the caution card, unlike my dad who was afraid for me to do anything, because he thought I’d get hurt.
When I started surfing my dad held his usual conservative post, “Don’t get hurt, you have babies to take care of.” My mom, on the other hand said, “I love that you’re doing
something new and challenging, and your girls will love that too.” To my dad surfing was a good way to get my face smashed in and drown, but to my mom surfing was an exciting way for me to add something to my soul, and to expand my world.
My mom was born and raised in Winnemucca Nevada. If you don’t know where
Winnemucca is, don’t feel badly, no one else does either. She grew up being the Queen of the Cowboy Town, and the one “most likely to escape”. She got out all the way to Reno
Nevada where she met my dad. My dad was a Southern California boy who became a
surgeon, and with encouragement from him, my mom became a nurse (and later a nurse practitioner).
My mom had met her match and my dad had met the hottest girl in Nevada.
So began their life of two people, too many years apart (26 to be exact) to make it work for too long, but not too long to have a lasting friendship post-divorce (a modern-day Happyish ending, so to speak).
When I think about my parents and their influence on me and how I’ve navigated my
twists and turns (especially with surfing), I give my mom credit for giving me the balls to
actually make the moves, and I give my dad credit for helping me to be cautious in those
I remember my dad flying out to visit me a few years ago, and him wanting to see me
surf. I was a very new surfer, and I took him to Breakwater at Venice Beach. I brought out a camping chair and helped him out onto the sand. He was around 91 at the time. I remember him sitting down and watching me. He had to keep squinting to see me. I wasn’t very good at catching much then, and when I came in he said, “You should have had a lot more of those waves than you did! (Said the man who never surfed)- Ugh! And of course, he added, “But don’t you get hurt out there!”
As for my mom and surfing, she has never actually seen me surf in real-time. She has
seen videos from trips, and pictures once in a while, but she hasn’t seen me live. Yet
somehow, her encouragement via texts and phone calls resonates loudly. Because this
woman, the woman whom I’ve given very little credit to, has actually given me an entire
world of strength that my dad couldn’t. I see my mom a few times a year now, and we
always have a nice visit. Sometimes, I see myself in her as I raise my girls, and I think about how lucky I am to have a mom like her.
A mom who has always said, “Go after it- see what you can see!” I just wish we could paddle out together, but them Winnemucca girls don’t surf!☺