I organized a paddle out but I don’t really organize paddle outs. If by organize you mean, cross my fingers and hope that my friends remember to show up at the general time and general place on the same day, then yes, I would say I organize them. Surfers can be some of the most fickle and most lazy when it comes to getting up early, committing to cold water and doing anything before coffee, yet with the promise of good waves and good company, surfers can be some of the most amped and motivated people before the sun comes up. We’re confusing, we know.
It was a Wednesday morning — not the easiest time to surf for a lot of people. The sun was up and the waves were better then they had been for a while. Most importantly, it was International Women’s Day. And since we are Lady Days, it felt ultimately appropriate to spend the day where we feel most empowered and at home – in the ocean.
When it peaked over the hill, the sun shone bright in La Jolla behind the row of palm trees. Kaley and I waited for others to arrive, calling out at people we recognized in the parking lot and shouting “Happy Women’s Day!” to everyone. We reunited with friends we hadn’t seen in a while and met others for the very first time. One such person was Heloisa (“L”), the proud owner of the first board I ever shaped. She cherished my 8’10” longboard with a pink resin-swirled bottom and a neon green pin line on the deck. When she told me she rides it almost every day despite the conditions, I remember thinking I couldn’t ask for anything more. Alex introduced herself to Kaley and I in the parking lot, quickly becoming one a kind and chipper new friend. The lineup was full of friends having fun, and I couldn’t stop smiling. Best of all, we didn’t just paddle out with women – and I’m proud of that. Our friends Grey, Keaton and Mike joined us specifically to celebrate a day that was equally as important to them. Afterward, I made sure each of them knew how special they are in the water and in my life. Women’s empowerment isn’t limited to just women, and I feel Lady Days is lucky to have the support of such righteous men.
A big part of the morning included me, wetsuit halfway on, borderline forcing friends into letting me take a polaroid of them, asking them afterward to inscribe one trait they admire in women underneath their photo. It could be one word or a small phrase. The diversity and the honesty of the collection inspires me to the core.
Launching into Women’s Day this way felt right in my soul. Amid funny little peelers and Grey bobbing around in the water, cheering us on behind his water housing, we paddled around and played in the sun. When I think of Lady Days and our mission to empower the female surfing community, it feels light, like this particular morning did. It feels like laughs and strangers turned friends and warmth. It feels refreshing and whole. It feels like immense, overflowing gratitude for the good that’s left in the world when everything seems to be spinning upside down. It feels like a welding of parts and a bridging of gaps. It feels like a million little moments shared with others not that different from you. It feels like a deep belly laugh that you could never explain to another person. It feels like pure appreciation for exactly where you are. It feels like the acknowledgment that there is a world of things to do, but right now this is all that matters. It feels like a tiny screamer that sparkles in front of you and makes you want only good things for all people in all places and all parts of the world.
I don’t often organize paddle outs, but when I do, it’s to feel like this.