Feel it falling off like clothing
Taste it rolling on your tongue
See the lights above you glowing
Oh and breathe them deep into your lungs
It was always simple- not hidden hard
You’ve been pulling at the strings, playing puppeteer for kings
And you’ve had enough
But the search ends here, where the night is totally clear
And your heart is fierce
So now you finally know that you control where you go..
You can steer
We’ve already been over the thing I have for big cities. I was born in one (Worcester), I go to school in one (Boston), and when I graduate, I’m going to move to an even bigger one (LA). I’m a city girl through and through, but if I could, I would move to Gerroa in a second. A heartbeat.
First, let’s backtrack. We left Sydney around 6 Friday night for a 130 mile bus ride south to the small coastal town of Gerroa, which is where camp was. It’s the first time I’ve been out on the main highways, which really are more like local highways in the US. I guess the best way of explaining it is imagining that even in the busiest parts of the city, an I-95 is more of a 290, or even a 146 once you get outside of Sydney. The roads were small and windy, and I was still freaking out a little about the driver being on the other side of the bus, and us actually driving on the left side of the road. It’s still going to take some getting used to. Otherwise, the ride was pretty nice, it was quiet and they threw on Anchorman for us to watch so by about 30 minutes in, I was spewing Ron Burgundy quotes like none other. No surprise.
At any rate, we hit camp around 9pm, unpacked, met our instructors, and went for a quick walk to the beach before bed. Now, the thing about Seven Mile Beach is that it’s not a busy kind of beach. The shore is lined with houses, but besides the occasional lights from the windows, there are no lights. So our walk along the river trail down to the water was in complete darkness, other than the blanket of stars above us. And when I say “blanket of stars”, I don’t mean a clear night in Boston. There were, very literally, HUNDREDS of stars in the sky- it almost looked fake there was so many of them. The first time I looked up, my breath caught in my throat. That’s the kind of place this was. And what happened next was one of those moments I’m sure I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.
In order to get to the beach, you have to cross a footbridge over the river, one that’s only about 3 feet wide, and at this point none of us have any idea where we’re going, so we just kind of step out onto this bridge and walk towards the sound of the waves. It’s so dark you can’t see the end of the bridge, so you don’t know where it’s going, and all you can see is the millions of stars surrounding you in the darkness, and I swear to God, it looked and felt like we were walking along in a single file line off the edge of the universe, with nothing but the stars, the sound of the ocean and the wood under our bare feet to guide us. Magical seems like a silly word for it, but that’s truly what it was.
And we followed and followed this bridge until we stepped down into the sand and just kept moving forward in the dark, literally grabbing at each other’s sweatshirts to keep from getting lost. And all of a sudden, there was water lapping at our toes, and we all stopped dead in our tracks.
Number two or three on my bucket list was to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean. I always assumed it would be the day I moved to LA, but holy shit there I was, in Australia, surrounded by complete darkness and the brightest stars I’ve ever seen, with my toes in the Pacific Ocean. And then running, and splashing, and surrounded by 20 other college kids giggling like schoolchildren in the waves because yeah, we knew we were in Australia, but HOLY CRAP GUYS, WE’RE IN AUSTRALIA. I had goose bumps.
And then, as if this couldn’t get any better, about three shooting stars shot across the sky. I KID YOU NOT. Was this a Disney movie or what? The universe knows I’m not animated, right? This doesn’t happen to normal people.
So after pulling ourselves away from the beach (and of course a quick trip to the nearby playground for some swing action), we all crashed back at camp in anticipation for a 7am breakfast and our first lessons. The surfing part itself was an absolute blast. My instructor laughed at me when I first got into the water because I had mentioned I’m a gymnast, and apparently, it’s the gymnasts and the dancers who bust their asses the hardest trying to balance on a surfboard. In order to balance on a surfboard, your feet both need to be facing the same way, with your legs bent and flat foot. You stand like that on a balance beam, and you’ll end up on the mat. So it took a little bit of practice (on the beach, thank god) to convince my brain not to pop my feet into turnout. But apparently the practice worked, because I managed to stand up and ride a wave for about 10 seconds on my very first try! (I know, color me shocked as well) Of course, I definitely had a few “gnarly wipeouts” too, and as a result ate a LOT of sand that day. But by the end of the day, I had progressed to using a shorter board, which I was pretty happy about.
We rode for about three hours in the morning, came back to camp for a HUGE lunch (if there’s anything surfers love to do more than surf, it’s eat!) and a power nap, before heading out again for another three-hour session. Just before dinner, a bunch of us headed up to the Fisherman’s Club at the top of the hill for a couple of beers and to watch the sunset over the water.
The view was absolutely spectacular, and just cemented the fact that this was, hands down, the most beautiful place I have ever been in my entire life.
The second day was much like the first, with two three hour sessions, the second of which was mainly us just having fun in the water, because the waves were awfully small. Not to mention we were all sore in muscles we didn’t even know existed, which is both the most awful and the most awesome feeling in the world. I really need to start going back to the gym. The water all weekend was pretty cold, but the wetsuits did their job well enough that it was more refreshing than anything. God knows I could use one of those for Hampton in the summer And then we headed back to Sydney late Sunday night, with a quick stop at Scubar for some celebratory pizza and beer, and then home for a long, hot shower and some serious sleep. This surfing thing is hard work!
I kind of feel like three weeks into the program, it’s still early to be calling this the best weekend of my life, but guys? THIS WAS THE BEST WEEKEND OF MY LIFE.