Scanning the Waves
In middle school, I wore pea-green yoga pants, always asked my hairdresser for bangs that I proceeded to clip up until my next trim, and rode the school bus home with an annoying boy who just wanted to date my best friend. During the summer, my family would vacation on the coast and I would stand in the ocean scanning the coming waves for one I could bodysurf.
I haven’t done any of those things for eight years.
In Goa, however, I had the chance to. I knew going into our group trip there that we would visit Goa’s beaches, but I expected the group to wade briefly just offshore then spend the rest of our time in town. I’d heard that the southern beaches were Goa’s nicest, and we would stay far from them up north.
When the last of our group arrived in Goa past midnight, however, they immediately headed to the beach. The next afternoon, we did the same.
We started out wading, but as soon as Tristan noticed that the waves were the right size for bodysurfing, he, Gavin, and I were off. We stood up to our ribs in seawater scanning the horizon for the perfect waves. Small swells wouldn’t do and “rollers” – waves that raised your hopes with their height and then rolled to shore rather than crashing feet from it – were even worse. What we needed were waves close enough to breaking that they would crash where the water was still a few feet deep and powerful enough to carry us all the way to shore. We called out good candidates:
“Oh that’s a good one in the back!”
“Do you think we can catch it?”
“No, that’s just a roller.”
“Here it comes!”
And then we’d pull ourselves forward through the water to the spot under the curve of the wave where we could expect to be lifted up and propelled, arms streamlined and head up, to shore. After being deposited in the sand, we’d stand up, splash back into the water, and scan for the next wave. If one threatened to break on top of us on our way back out, we dove underneath and kept going.
I’m not sure how long we scanned and rode and dove. By the time we climbed up the beach to where the others were, though, the sun had set and I had angry red scratches across my leg and right arm. Gavin’s chest was raw from sliding in the sand.
We got back from Goa yesterday morning. Starting today, we’ll all have to put our noses to the grindstone to finish our first project reports for GCIL. In two weeks’ time, we hope to present viable solutions for the grand challenges India faces today. For the weekend, though, it was nice to relive a bit of the past.