My name is Devon. My story was once told in a $2 notebook from a cold footstool in the back stacks of my high school library. It was therapy for me then, just like it is now. I add to it in my head while I’m surfing and with calloused fingers on silky keyboard keys while my daughters nap.
I don’t know if my story is worth reading, but I write it down anyways because I believe stories are important-the embarrassing ones, the bright ones, the ones that are hard to tell. I am a writer because “say everything as honestly and embarrassingly as it happens to you” is the kind of job description I want to have. I am a surfer because being anything else never felt quite right. I read once how you don’t want to be held captive by your story. Words have healing powers, but only if you let them be heard.
I don’t remember this day pictured above, but I’m sure I was wondering what that loud blue thing meant in my life. So far it has meant meeting a shoeless, sandy-haired sailor who called me out for my bad tan lines and later became my husband. It’s meant losing surf contests and winning one when no one was around. It’s meant hitting the bottom on a big swell like a fork shot out of a cannon. It’s meant vacations drifting around on boats with my mom, dad and two younger sisters that taught me about who we are as a family. Once it even meant telling some guy to get some balls and get his own waves.
The ocean gives me a sense that there’s something out there bigger than me that knows better. It’s probably the thing that makes me feel the most like myself. I get to embody a child hyped up on Capri-Sun at recess, but also someone wiser who takes deep breaths and notices the currents or the different shaped bubble clusters that form after a wave breaks. Surfing also brings me back to this primal state where I’m hunting to survive, except in this case it’s just for waves.
My dad taught me to surf in Waikiki when I was nine. He’s been surfing before wetsuits and the leash were invented. He eagerly signed me up for a surf camp that same summer, even though my cousin and I just pretended to drown so the cute instructors would save us. My dad and I still surf together every Friday, but I do the opposite of trying to make the boys think I need their help now.
I can’t give my dad full credit for my love of the ocean, though. My mom used to take my sisters and I to the beach every week. She and her friends would tan and talk while we ran around burying each other in holes and drinking the waves.
With surfing in my life, it feels like I can open a doorway to those moments any time I want to. I think it’s a sport for Peter Pans.
I was born and raised in the San Joaquin Hills of Southern Orange County, California, in a town known for its beaches and art festivals, but not for any of its sports teams.
My husband Scott was born in a valley in Ventura County, California and grew up down the street from the local high school. He played baseball, following after his grandfather, father, and uncle, but ditched his mitt (and school sometimes) for boardshorts and Churchill swim fins. He has two younger sisters too. We met in a drafty garage next to a keg of beer while attending school in San Diego.
We have two daughters named after our favorite islands off of California. When I look at them, I think the same thing I think when I look at the ocean: what a gift (and often, how unruly).
These days my story is told from a single story home with cold wood floors, warm white walls and a rusty fireplace. Thanks for reading.