Probably the most frustrating and most rewarding way to start a new year is: to learn something new.
In other words: to be totally bad at something.
This year, I decided to learn how to surf – it’s been one of my dreams since I was about 12 years old. I went with Lauren (who surfs), Camille (who surfs really well) and Chris (who surfs really, really well). We are in Costa Rica, where the waves are known to be easy for beginners like me but, right now as I’m writing this, I’m sore as hell, and it’s been like this for three days.
It started amazing – I threw myself into the water with my wetsuit and board just like Elle McPherson in Elle magazine in the 90s. Thirty minutes later, I was standing up on the board, an hour after that, I was doing turns, and I was already imagining my new career as a Roxy spokeswoman, traveling all over the world looking for the best surf spots and announcing that fashion blogs were so 2010 and that the new thing was definitely surf blogs…
When suddenly my body turned against me. It started with me being intensely thirsty, then I had abdominal pain so bad I thought I was going to explode. I begged my teacher to let me take a break and I went to lie down right away, but not without stopping on the way to let my friends know, of course (who are all way better than I am, if you haven’t caught on yet) that I was totally killing it out there.
I’ve got a kind of pretentious bitchy side like that.
(Which, if used properly, isn’t such a bad thing actually – when you exaggerate your performance, you’re forced to get good at it. For example, I swore I was the best foosball player in the world TO A GROUP OF ENRAGED ITALIANS AND GERMANS, so I totally have to practice before our tournament to make sure I could preserve France’s honor).
Other than half passing out, due to the fact that I like to keep my muscles in a state of half-sleep most of the year, taking extra care to avoid any exercise at the gym or any activity that might build muscle other than typing on my iPad, I totally thought I was on my way to being in the world cup of surfing. Or that I’d at least have a little appearance in The Surfers Journal or something. You know, no big deal.
The second day only confirmed my doubts: I surfed like Kelly Slater in the small waves, without missing even one. My friends were all behind me, loving the fact that they were finally going to be able to enjoy my wonderful company on real waves in the days to come. And plus, my muscles were just fine that day – I was the master of the universe.
On Day 3, I was totally telling my teacher that at my level, I was getting super bored with the little waves and it was time to move on. Since she’s a patient person (and she had already figured out that I can get a little carried away) she told me “One more day with the little waves. Tomorrow, we’ll get serious.”
“It’s about time!” I shouted before being hit by a huge wave right in the face.
At 7am the next morning, I was ready on the beach in my blue Lisa Marie Fernandez wetsuit (a surf blog that doesn’t leave behind its fashion roots, what do you think?) doing my stretches. We got into the warm water, in the light of the rising sun. A flock of pelicans took off into the sky, forming a promising “Go, G!”
And this is where the story of my exploits ends and my New Year’s post begins, kids.
How to surf in the big waves by Garance Doré:
First of all, you have to get past the little waves before you can handle the big waves, and honestly, the little waves are a bitch and they don’t make it easy — they will slap you in the face and carry your board away and throw you back on the beach just when you think you’ve gotten the hang of it. They smack you around and mess up your hair and make your SPF 200 sunscreen drip into your eyes, causing instant conjunctivitis, and making it so you can’t tell the diffrence between the sky and the ground and if those are your friends or strangers with vaguely human forms. They also make sure to tear off your swimsuit bottoms, which, after the tenth time, get all stretched out and ugly (except for the Lisa Marie Fernandez, since it’s made of Neoprene, of course, hahaha) and once you’ve fought the waves with all the strength of your youth (hahaha) then you have to get up on your board (miserable), paddle like crazy (super miserable) and pass through enormous waves with your board (so, so, so miserable).
You arrive at the Line-up (where the surfers, the real ones, wait for the wave)
(The place to be)(THE COOLEST PLACE ON EARTH, ACTUALLY).
Paddle like crazy. End up exhausted. Totally. Dead. A little piece of nothing at all in the ocean. A pelican flies over and poops on you. And that’s when the real challenge is supposed to begin. Take a wave and stay standing up on your board.
And that’s when you hear the noise. The sound of the wave crashing against you. It’s crushing you and, while you’re trying to come back out of the water without drowning, another wave grabs you by the collar and throws you to the bottom of the ocean, all the while giving you a bunch of mini-slaps, taking off with your board, your suit, and all traces of vanity if you still had any left. And then the same thing happens all over again.
Until your body and mind are so completely worn out, and you’re just lying on the edge of the beach, wondering why. (A general why about the meaning of life and stupid dreams).
And the next day you try it all again – until you end up finding muscles you didn’t know you had. Until you get your balance, sitting on a board in the middle of the ocean. Until you laugh (not even a ironic laugh) picking yourself up again for the 1,547th time. Until you’re so exhausted you need to take a whole day to rest.
(And it’s precisely on that day of rest that I’m finally able to tell you all about my exploits, dear readers)
So that’s how I started my year – worn out on the beach in Costa Rica, waving at my friends while they were carving beautiful lines in the waves.
The sun was setting, and I told myself that one day I’d be with them, once I’ve learned, gotten past my fears, and found new strengths inside me. I’ll continue to learn, to follow my childhood dreams (even if they’re as simple as learning to surf) and keep trying over and over again until I get it and it becomes a part of me. Well, I mean, or not – actually. Some people never become surfers, and there are some dreams better left behind. We’ll see at the end of next week.
So it’s here sitting on the beach in Costa Rica, as the sun goes down, that I send you my best wishes for the new year. The future will tell us whether or not I become a pro surfer, but in the meantime, I’m putting my whole heart and sense of humor into it, and the little bit of humility I can muster up, to get through learning a new art, which is always so difficult.
I hope you will put your whole heart into your new projects this year, never give up, never tell yourself it’s too late, never lose your sense of humor, and run after everything that makes you love life without giving up even if life slaps you around a little bit. After all, maybe those slaps are well-deserved, you never know ;)
2015 is going to be a fantastic year, we’ve all agreed on that. I send you all big kisses and I’ll be back soon with photos. Pura Vida!!!
Translated by Andrea Perdue