How Not to Ride the Waves

I love going into a pool or into the ocean. I also have been afraid of drowning since I was a child. Puts me in a bit of a bind, it does. Because I love the water more than I am afraid, I go in anyway.

Even though I go into the water, I am reluctant to immerse my head under water. Afterwards, my eyes sting so badly that I need to dry my eyes with a towel before they stop stinging and I can see again. Wiping them with my hands only seems to make them sting more. I have tried to shake my head, as I have seen boys and dogs do after they leap, god-like, up from the water, but it doesn’t help.

Because my eyes are sensitive to the water, I cannot wear contacts. Plus, I have poor eyesight. Without eyeglasses, I feel even less confident wave surfing because I am concerned about misjudging wave height, getting knocked over, and drowning.

To summarize with the help of an equation:

My reluctance to put my head underwater/Wear no eyeglasses > My love of water > My fear of drowning

Yesterday, I went to Jones Beach for the afternoon. Jones Beach is a beach along a peninsula off the southern coast of Long Island. The last time I went to Jones Beach was as a teenager, so it’s been at least 25 years since I spent time there.

I had forgotten that the shore can be steep in places. You do not have to go far out into the water to find yourself riding some pretty deep waves. Two or three banks of waves came in one after the other. Children with parents and teens were wave surfing in groups.The beach felt both crowded and empty. I found parking easily. People settled under umbrellas near the lifeguards, but plenty of room still existed for newcomers.

When I arrived, high tide was rolling in. In the span of a couple of hours, the waves dumped a lot of sand on the shore at the spot where I waded creating a deep bank where none had existed. I wrote under a shady umbrella, and then baked in the sun for a bit so that going into the water would be refreshing.

While I was in the water, I started riding some waves higher than the earlier waves by a foot or two. Unfortunately, a huge wave came and I had to make a decision. Go under or try to go over. Which one do you think I made?

Answer: The wrong one.

If I had not been afraid to go underwater because my eyes would sting, I made the choice to try and go over it. But it was already too late for that choice. I had not been close enough to the waves when it was building. As it started to crest, I tried to go over it. Guess who won that one?

Answer: It wasn’t me.

As the water was about to cover me, I held my breath and tried to grab my nose before water went up it (I didn’t make it). The wave knocked me backwards and into a somersault. The lower back of my head hit the sand. My other hand went out for stability, and I felt the water lift my prescription sunglasses up and off my face. I was able to stand pretty up right away, even though I got hit by another, smaller wave. I took a few steps towards the beach, and I heard someone gasp and giggle. I realized that my top and been yanked way down. I was standing with my boobage visible to all. I yanked up my shirt and made my way out of the water. I was kind of, sort of, but not really embarrassed. As I shook my hair out, I realized that my hair clip was gone, too, as was the flexible fabric bandaid that had been on my leg.

Neptune was a greedy bastard.

I tried looking for a washed up pair of sunglasses on the beach. But I know how quickly items can be moved either out to sea or down shore, so I didn’t look too hard to find them.

Afterwards, I felt lucky that my neck didn’t get broken or that I didn’t drown. I was on the edge of the green flags that the lifeguards use. But you can bet next time that I am planting myself right down in front of them. I will leave the glasses behind, or secure them to my body (although I think it will be safer just to leave them onshore. I will have to read up on how to make them sting less or just try to see if exposure will get my eyes used to the salt.

When it comes to wave riding, I will play by Neptune’s rules because he doesn’t play by mine.


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