Not a surfer was stirring, not even those serious about the sport.
My wetsuit was hung in the cockpit with care, in hopes that in the morning a hot instructor would be there.
My 39-year-old brain was nestled snug in our vberth with visions of what me at 40 would look like on this Earth.
With Phillip’s promise of a birthday surf lesson on my mind, I closed my eyes to leave my 39th year behind.
Phillip’s scrambling the next morning woke me with a clatter: “Get up, it’s time to go!” “What bikini?” “It doesn’t matter!”
For the water in Newport in summer was a brisk 65, but with a wetsuit it made you feel fresh and alive.
We topped the hill on Memorial Boulevard and to my eyes did appear, the little crook of Easton beach with lapping waves I could hear.
A slick long board was brought to me nice and quick by my “tasty waves” instructor whose name was Nick.
After a few practice pop-ups on the beach, Nick took me to the water where there was a lovely swell, 1-2 foot each.
On my tummy the rise of each wave felt strange and new as Nick pointed me to shore and, shouting, told me what to do.
“When I tell you to paddle, dig hard, don’t give up.” “Now PADDLE, now PADDLE, DOUBLE PADDLE and POP-UP!”
And just like that, to my utter disbelief and surprise, my body was propelled in a way and by forces I could never surmise.
I did it, I thought. I surfed a wave. Popped up from my belly. I could see Phillip ashore looking astonished and (I hoped) a little jelly.
As I coasted to shore and his joyous face came into sight, Phillip shouted:
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, ANNIE. YOU SURFED WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT!”
So … this is 40. Not too shabby I’ll say.
This impromptu surf lesson from Phillip was the perfect gift to celebrate my big day. While we kite-surf a ton and I’ve “surfed” plenty of waves that way, I’d never “popped up” and truly dropped into a wave. It was mesmerizing, thrilling, seemingly miraculous. My brain could not convince my arms, right before each pop-up, that it was going to work, and then you just have a little faith and jump up and (most times) there you are, suddenly surfing. I will relish any chance to surf, in the traditional way, like this again. What an incredible feeling! We are also looking forward to sharing more of Newport (then Bristol, RI for the Fourth of July!) with you all here on the blog. (But I love the tradition of writing a unique ‘Twas the Night Before’ piece here each Christmas (2017 and 2020); I hope you enjoyed this one). Phillip and I wish you all a wonderful holiday. We’ll see you here next year (2023, can you believe we made it?) to continue sharing our first summer in New England! Stay tuned! And, happy new year!