I grip the edge of the board and fairly fling myself up, wobbling a bit but gaining my balance quickly. The wave that brings my board in is disappointingly weak, but it is still exhilarating to ride it. My instructor Ian praises my stance and my ability to stay upright, giving me additional advice in his fantastically Australian accent--and all Australian accents are fantastic--and promising that the next wave will be 'a great fuck off' wave. Cursing still thrills my thirteen year-old heart, and I swim out strong.
The next wave is a 'great fuck off' one. It engulfs me, swallowing me in foam and salt and a great blue wall of nothingness. My eyes sting, held open by the force of the water, and I tumble and scrape along the floor, my board slipping and catching. I fumble to grip, to pull myself up, but the wave's children follow him, and I am tumbled again like so many awkward bits of flotsam. I finally pull myself up, gasping, clinging to my board. I am sure my eyes are red. My skin feels raw, but nothing is really hurt. I paddle weakly back to Ian, who looks anxious for a second--a whole second!--until he sees I am not hurt. He asks if I would go again, and I look back at the waves, the inconstant, lying waves, and I stretch myself along the board, and swim out once more to meet the sea.