Author: Nicole C. Maloy, W’95
The first time I heard someone speak of “going down the shore,” I imagined a map of a shoreline on a wall, with an animated stick figure starting at one point on the shore and traveling downward. Going down the shore sounded like a process. I would eventually learn that it is a destination; the word “to” is implied. To non-natives of this area, “down the shore” translates as “to the beach.” It sounds like “downa shore.” No relation to Dinah Shore. She’s from Tennessee.
I never once explored the Jersey Shore when I was a Penn student. To be fair, my spring semester weekends were spent at track meets, and my summers were generally spent in Ohio. Still, what a shame not to take advantage of Philadelphia’s relative proximity to the ocean! It’s only an hour to Ocean City, where I took my first surfing lesson a few years ago.
Yes, surfing. Who knew there was surfing anywhere around here? Not I. And, let’s face it, it’s not Hawaii, by any stretch. But for a total beginner like me, Jersey-sized waves were just fine; the Hawaii Five-0 theme song would be in my head either way. And Jersey’s a heck of a lot closer to home. And I bet they don’t serve funnel cake at the Banzai Pipeline in Oahu. Sign me up for a trip to the Jersey Shore! Ahem – downa shore.
Turns out I’m a “goofy foot” surfer. Somehow this seemed fitting. This actually means I lead with my right foot, where most lead with their left (those boring souls would be “regular foot”). My high jump takeoff foot was my right when most others used their left, so at least I’m consistent.
Paddling out for the first time, before I even tried to pop up on my first wave – right foot forward – I knew I would return. I have always loved the water, and frolicking in the waves on a sunny day is standard-issue fun, but this was different. Going past the waves, getting away from the crowds, anticipating the ride back in and, most of all, just being out in the water felt pretty amazing. Didn’t taste so amazing, but that’s part of the deal.
It intrigues me that you have to fight the waves to get away from land for the express purpose of collaborating with them to get you back. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere. For the record, there are real waves, and real surfers, at the Jersey Shore. If your timing is right, you’ll get to see some pretty impressive moves. And you know what? The view is even better from the water, on a board. If you can stand, if you can swim, if you can get downa shore, then you can take a surfing lesson. So…do it!