Who Am I - Part I

In a series of about three posts I wish to help you understand what surfing means to me, what it has done throughout my life to develop me as an individual, where it has brought me, and where it will take me into the future. By the end you will know exactly why my heart is in this project 100%.

Falling in love with the ocean for some is inevitable. The salt is in our blood, the fresh smell of the sea always in our mind, it’s our sanctuary. And when we are there we are free from the rest of the word, all that matters is the serenity which is instilled in our souls anytime we are there.

As far back as I can remember I have been a salty, soggy Rhode Island beach bum. Whether Island hopping around New England waters with my sister and parents, sitting for hours on the bow of our sailboat watching the land on the horizon appear and disappear until we landed at destinations like Block Island, Cape Cod, Cuttyhunk, or Martha’s Vineyard, or trudging around the bulkheads of the marinas at low tide collecting buckets of crabs and starfish while my father worked on our beloved 32’ Seafarer, Elysium.

During the summer weekdays my mother would pack our beach mobile, a ’65 mustang convertible, with snacks, lemonade, boogie boards, skim boards and surf boards, myself, my sister and any one of our friends or cousins who was around and we would stay at the beach almost until the sun was gone. My summer memories live in my heart forever, and every summer I am right back in the shoes of that same young boy who was born with a love for the ocean.

I remember when my father first pushed me into a wave on a 6’ short board, which floated me while standing on it in one place when we would wait for the best sets. When I was about nine I started paddling into the waves myself on that same board, and then I was truly stoked. Ever since, I have found solace in the dawn of each summer. When the days get longer and warmer an overwhelming energy manifests in my heart and the ocean beckons.

Through all of the hardest times in life surfing has been there for me. When my parents divorced, my father would drop me at the beach on a Monday morning after spending the weekend at his house, and until my mother picked me up in the afternoon I could elude all sorrow and pain from the horrible situation that became of their relationship.  Through the trials of my teenage years and dealing with two new families, I was nurtured by the ocean. After loosing my best friend and father, waiting for waves during a surf session became even more spiritual.  Throughout my life surfing has molded me into the person who I am today. So it makes perfect sense, that after becoming a paraplegic, surfing would help me survive and accept my new life just as it had always done.