As with any craft, surfing becomes more involved for the individual as they delve into new realms along their own personal journey. I have a story in my heart that will always be there, as long as I live, growing and being molded along with my mind, and I would like to share this story with you.
Six years ago, I made a discovery that has set me on a life quest.
As a senior in high school, I was still struggling to find myself at the time when most of my peers seemed to have everything figured out. As I have grown older, I have realized that most of those same peers knew just as little about themselves as I knew about myself, and this is what contributes to the shock that many go through upon their "arrival" in "the real world," as the "adult world" is sometimes referred to as. Little did I know that I really did have everything figured out. I simply had to chase my dreams, and since becoming an adult, I have realized that our dreams are what make up our worlds. My dreams were already being lived upon my graduation from high school, but just as I did not know how to "live like an adult," and I did not know that I could simply "live like a kid" and be a successful person, I did not know what my dreams were, and I did not know that I was already living them.
I began my journey into the extreme sports world, and more specifically, the wave riding world, as a sophomore in high school, once I got my driver's license and therefore gained the ability to travel further than around the house. You see, the way of life in the suburbs is much different than the way of life in the cities, or in "the country." In cities, people can walk around and get to everywhere they need to go. In the country (rural areas), it is more like the suburbs, but people are less reliant. In the suburbs, a car is pretty much necessary, unless you take the bus or ride a bicycle or a skateboard, which where I live, not many people do, as it isn't as convenient as owning a car. Basically, what I am saying is that people don't walk around, as a form of transportation, in the suburbs.
Anyways, when I got my driver's license, it opened up the world tenfold. The first weekend of getting my driver's license, I took an 8 hour trip to Key West, had a blast, returned home, and within a month, I had arrived at another destination... one that, as you read on, you will understand that it has completely transformed my life.
I was drawn to the sea/shore/ocean. Whatever you call it, it called me.
I call it the beach, and upon my first trip to this paradise apart from my family, I was hooked. I was with two friends from my high school baseball team, taking a little vacation from all of the hard work we had done our whole lives, when we stumbled upon something... some little piece of hand-shaped wood meant for sliding around on the wet sand: a skimboard. Once again, hooked. The hour or two that we rented that little piece of wood for completely changed my life. I feel like I would have eventually stumbled upon the activity, but maybe not, and maybe I would have never realized it for all the sport that it really is. But I did stumble, and so I did realize, albeit sometime later.
A month or so later, I had a solid crew of friends who were addicted, as much as I was, to what we thought was simply an awesome hobby. We all bought high performance (or so we thought) skimboards, and we began traveling to the coast every weekend, in our weekly time off from our other shared hobby- baseball. Never could we have imagined what lay ahead in our realization of the sport that is skimboarding, and never could we have imagined where we were located in the world of wave riding. Fortunately, to the latter, we did not realize our location in the hierarchy of athletes within the wave riding sports until much later, once we were on a much higher tier, skill-level-wise, as if we did we would have maybe never realized our location in regards to space, being kids and athletes, and therefore competitive. Let me make things less complicated...
I was born in Florida, under two hours from either coast (east or gulf), and a complete stranger to my surroundings, besides the immediate. As you will understand later in this post, you would never believe me if I told you I was out of reach of where I would want to be as a wave riding individual. Up until a few weeks ago, I believed I was in the wrong place for a person with my desires. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Delve in with me...
Blah blah blah. I want waves, and I can't get enough of them. The bane of the soul surfer.
I was sixteen years old when one of my greatest friends of all time showed me a video that changed my life. It was a three-minute short compilation of some of the best waves ridden on a skimboard. Ridiculous shacks here, sider connections there. All in all and by the end, my mind was blown and my stoke level was out into space. Up until a little under a year ago, I didn't think it could go any higher as far as wave riding was concerned, it being my stoke meter. And then there was paddle surfing.
You really would call a completely ignorant person, if you knew that I thought my location on the map was no good for surfing, once you hear where this location is, and my new description of it, after having grown some and nowadays not taking things for granted, and realizing that waves don't have to be big to be perfect.
Just because you are not immediately where you want to be doesn't mean that you cannot get there. It does not mean the end of the world, even if just in your own eyes. You can always reach your goals if you try hard enough, putting in the time and sometimes dedicating your life. Luck helps, but I feel as if luck is more an alignment of your goals, reality, and reaching past your immediate reality towards where you would like to be situated. And then, you must realize the present in order to realize that you may be just where you want to be. Letting life come at you is also imperative, as, if you get ahead of yourself, you will only be disappointed, which leads to discouragement.
I got lucky. And I mean very lucky.
The same friend that showed me what skimming waves was all about was part of my crew as the rest of us learned, from him, that we were in a perfect location for what we wanted. Some members of this crew still may not, until this post reaches them, know where we lie, as we are all still in close proximity. Something must be telling us something. This is my conclusion, reached by simple logic
Anyways, I did not understand my place in space until I started surfing, and by surfing, I mean riding waves.
As it turns out, my dream location is the same spot I live in, and have been raised in since I turned five years old. Orlando, Florida, one of the most coveted tourist stops in all the world, drew in my family. Leisure is something that people take for granted, and many would never consider placing a leisure activity at the center of their lives, but why not? According to death, we only live once, so why not make the most of our lives? Why not pursue our leisure activities just as heavily as we pursue our careers (unless our careers are our leisure activities)? And actually, as I'm writing this, I'm realizing that the way the world has progressed is a system set up in order to fulfill the purest forms of leisure by working collectively towards them. Retirement is not what I always thought it was. It is not simply the time after we give up our jobs. It is the time after we have realized what makes us happy, and the time we spend working towards it, and trying to bring our surrounding beings of nature (our loved ones) with us. I love everything, and so maybe that is why my life has aligned me with my "retirement package" so early. I take what I can get and make the most of it, as we all do, though many of us do not realize it. Maybe this is retirement... the time when we realize that what we have is really what we want. If we have it, we must have wanted some part of it. Even in the lowest of dumps do we have something, and that something is a subconscious hope and desire for betterment. I haven't had the easiest life, and I have been through my own hells, and I am recently out and into my own heaven, my own retirement plan, my own perfect contentment that we enjoy as children; my own yearning for everything without the depression sent our way if we believe our goals are out of reach.
My hometown is EXACTLY where I want to be as an amateur wave rider, testing the waters to see if it is really something I would want to do for forever. Three things that have to do with Orlando: New Smyrna and it's inlet (a 45 minute drive), which is one of the most consistent surf breaks in the world as far as making waves when there is any swell, and there is plenty of swell. Plus, it is small enough to try surfing without the risk of breaking your body apart... St. Augustine and Vilano (a 1-and-a-half hour drive), where Cabo-style wraps are to be had on a skimboard, as well as world class lines... Sebastian Inlet and all of it's surrounding spots, where there is not only a world-class surfing destination and plenty of breaks for the beginner when there is swell, but perfect waves to skim pretty much all the time. You may have heard of Charley Baldwin (Hall of Fame surfer and owner of Inlet Charley's), Wooster surfboards, Erie surfboards, Orion surfboards, the Geiselmans etc. etc. (all local to New Smyrna); Brad Domke, Freak traction, and simply Sebastian Inlet (all locals of Sebastian Inlet lol); and if you are up to date with the skim world you know of Vilano. Not to mention, but I will, the gulf produces ummmmm let's see, Zap skimboards, which can be seen worldwide and a few years ago, were the skims under most little kids feet who were first getting into skimming waves.
The way I see it, I am blessed. I can't believe how blessed I am. I plan on moving as soon as possible, yes, but only to be in New Smyrna or Daytona Beach (which is another world-class tourist location and on the other side of the New Smyrna Inlet), and one day buying another house after my travels throughout the world and finding my favorite wave, but I will never give up my hometown. I will always come back for my friends, making it my own favorite touring destination. And I don't only mean my human friends....
The waves are my friends too, dudes