The Surf Love Story of an Introvert Mermaid


In the beginning, I was always more scared, than calm, excited and confident like those around me.

The pictures you see of the composed and artful human specimens in surfing photography: I could carry off the "look" a little bit while on the beach:

holding the surfboard, admiring the view, and staring to find a way out, and watching board (type, and) traffic.

Stepping into the water had me chanting in my head the little things I needed to remember, little seashell bullet-point reminders to myself, that I was going to be okay,

as I held onto my board, hoping not to feel that surprising little pinch of a crab from a few weeks back, that I still could not wipe off my brain, which saw the tiny crustacean as the exploratory-foot-chomping offspring of a giant sea-serpent and hagfish,

while little surfers who rode waves before they could walk, whizzed past me on what looked like skateboard-sized little slivers of foam.

The first time I had a big wipe-out, and felt like I had a lot of thinking time as I was rolling around in the whitewater,

I remembered feeling trickles of ocean meandering through my sinuses, and wondered how nobody had mentioned that would happen.

Somehow it all still felt like home.


It's funny, the thing that made me keep going back, and eventually build a life around being able to play in the sea as a way of life.

I never stopped to think about it, until one day, after a few weeks of flatwater, the water bump gods delivered.

All I felt was a descending zing of lightness, clarity and focus, as I went about my day doing whatever I had to do for my research,

and headed straight for the most likely beach. Passing four-wheel drives and station wagons with boards strapped to the roofs: immediate solidarity,

and slight panic -- I hope it's not too crowded!

I felt light, bubbly, and quietly elated as I went to take a peek at the water situation, and ran back to my van (I avoid running in general ) to unload the board,

quickly out of the van, but gently onto the asphalt, on grass if there is some; clamber into my neoprene, and bring out the wax -- it feels automatic now:

swipe my hair clear to the side as I pull the zip up before flipping the Velcro over to secure everything...

Today the sun came out
and the forecast was sweet
and everyone was on the road

with boards piled high on top of their rides
or on the side of their bikes

The breeze was
not too icy
and there was that offshore rainbow spray.

I am quiet out in the water
but I smile inside
when people around me are so happy
to have made it out of work at 3pm
in the middle of the week.

The car park is full
and wetsuits and boards are walking everywhere
towards the different peaks on this tiny peninsula.

It's like the past weeks of rain and more rain
and no surf and slate skies
never existed.

And you picture a whole bunch of eyes
everywhere in the hills around you and a few hours away
keeping watch over the days

at the forecast, at the wind, straining your neck
to guess what the surf is doing
from any water you see.

Even if you are driving past an inlet.
The weeks of waiting,
the weeks of wondering.

"I am leaving this coast!"
You never realized there was a cloud
over you that
only the ocean could

Until you are in your van
feeling the warmth of the
suddenly summer sun.

All those bunches of eyes
we are now zipping across the hills
towards the sea.

You can almost feel the hearts singing
in the warmish air.

Pouring yourself into the wetsuit
and bringing out the wax.

Key, check.

Trying to move as fast as you can before.
Your legs take off towards the water.
Sun and swell at the same time in one day?!

You step in.
This is home.
I guess this is love.

xo Candace Loy

The Mermaid Tribe.


Pretty tiny wheel shells (Zethalia zelandica) on Pakiri Beach, New Zealand. My Surf Love Story. Bibelot Bay Journal. The Mermaid Tribe. Candace Loy.
(The poem in this story was first published on The Inertia on November 2014)

Since when did saltwater swishing around in your sinuses become part of a soppy surf story? Always.

Mushier than peas. Ding Diaries: For the Love of Board.

xo Candace Loy

This story is dedicated to a childhood friend, Adele. It is her birthday.

You would have been an effortless goddess on a wave.