I’m searching for something stable, and I’ve found it. The surf is my crutch in these times of change. The tides of Gqeberha are different than those of the Pacific West Coast. South Africa’s Indian Ocean is a new beast, untamed in the landscape of my mind. The waves behave in a different process, but not an unfamiliar one of the home waves I once knew. The swell, the producer of the wave sets, and its energy is constant. Driving forward over and over again. Unlike San Diego, there seem to always be waves, granting me the freedom to leave behind life’s futility on shore and enter a pure state of mind. However, the wind dictates my quality of surf. It is my greatest enigma. One day it is onshore, blowing from sea to land, creating a chaotic mush leaving frothing surfers only with a bit of windburn and a lot of disappointment. However, as it seems, at a moment’s notice, fortunes change. The winds within the same day will flip 180 degrees. As a result, I am treated to vacant perfect waves. Well, the wind changes, but one thing remains constant: water’s unrelenting power.
The learning curve of the ocean is grand. At home, I am a novice, but here I am in infancy within my knowledge of the water. I know nothing about anything, but I have learned before and will learn again here. See, well, these waves are new; they are not unfamiliar. I know the feeling of riding down the line. I know what it’s like to wake up with friends at 6 am and get there before sunrise. However, here, in this place, it is different. My life treads a new direction, one I’ve never experienced before. In South Africa, every person, place, and thing is new. Every fear is 10-fold. Every shortcoming is exacerbated by uprooting my life and the subsequent loss of all comfortability. However, every moment pushes me out of my tight box, farther and farther. Until I feel I cannot go another inch. But the waves and my board stay by my side through it all. Acting as my tether to the ground as the storm of culture shock, pressure, and social anxiety whirls around me.
The ocean, through it all, calls me. When I am lost, it, no matter the upheaval in my life, shows me the way. My identity is mysterious at this moment. Like a mouse trapped in a desert, finding shade and protecting in the company of an oasis, that oasis, my life in San Diego, has dried up. I have nowhere to hide from the scorching sun. It looms on the horizon. My identity longs to hide, but I must face reality’s piercing rays. My life is gone. Nothing is normal except the peace I find in every breaking wave. The ocean and its graces have delivered me what was lost but not forsaken. Friends and a circle of positive individuals whose lights burn far greater than mine. They are new, yes, but not unfamiliar. They are foreign, but here in this new land, we are a part of the same nation. We are people. We are human beings bound by the same love of life. As a result, the storm has no power here. This land of South Africa has quickly become my home, and I am embedded within it.
The ocean, it calls me once again. We go at it together with my friends and companions on this new journey, reminding me home is not a place. It is a feeling, and when in that water surrounded by new friends, I feel at home.