February 2013. I’m 30,000 feet in the air, on my way to Tamarindo for the first time. I’m totally by myself, my friends either at home with little ones or not up for the adventure ahead of me. My divorce has been final for one week. I have never felt so alone.
On the other end of that flight awaits an adventure that I’ve promised myself for years. I had always wanted to learn to surf, but for a thousand excuses, I had never taken the plunge. But here I was, just an hour away from a week learning to surf and my head swimming with questions. What if I hated surfing? What if I got lonely? What if I couldn’t get the hang of it? What on earth was I doing?
Little did I know what a special place was awaiting me. Five minutes after arriving at WRSC, I was sitting at a table with 8 other people, sharing a pitcher of Imperial and a plate of nachos (yes, as big as my a$$). Lonely? Not a chance.
The next morning, I had my first surf lesson, a truly life-altering experience. Under the guidance of my fantastic instructor, I popped up and rode my first wave just minutes after getting in the water. All fear, gone. All anxiety, poof. That’s what surfing does to you. It makes you smile so hard your face hurts. It makes you pop up after an epic ride or an epic wipe out (it doesn’t matter which), laughing and paddling back out into the waves to do it again.
And when I wasn’t experiencing the joy of riding a wave or the peace of bobbing around, awaiting the next wave as the sun rises over camp, I was laughing. Oh my gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much. We were – we are – a motley crew, my WRSC family. From the US, Canada, Russia, we were doctors and PR pros and physical therapists and even a peace officer (to this day, I’m not sure what that really means). But oh we laughed. Amid the truly spectacular backdrop of WRSC – with its staff poised to help us with any request and its waves ready to draw us back into the ocean over and over again – surfing buddies became lifelong friends.
Afterwards, I wondered if perhaps it was the magic of the people I met that week, some wormhole that I fell into by picking that specific week in that particular year. But 9 months later, I was back at WRSC. Different week. Different people. Same amazing experience.
My crew of friends returns to WRSC every February now – to surf, laugh, drink a little more Imperial, and eat a few more nachos. This February will be my fourth trip “home.” Because yes, that is what WRSC became for me after just one week of surfing. Home. I can’t wait to get back there.