The inspirational story of one woman learning to surf and creating a new life in gritty, eccentric Rockaway Beach
Unmoored by a failed marriage and disconnected from her high-octane life in the city, Diane Cardwell finds herself staring at a small group of surfers coasting through mellow waves toward shore—and senses something shift. Rockaway is the riveting, joyful story of one woman’s reinvention—beginning with Cardwell taking the A Train to Rockaway, a neglected spit of land dangling off New York City into the Atlantic Ocean. She finds a teacher, buys a tiny bungalow, and throws her not-overly-athletic self headlong into learning the inner workings and rhythms of waves and the muscle development and coordination needed to ride them.
As Cardwell begins to find her balance in the water and out, superstorm Sandy hits, sending her into the maelstrom in search of safer ground. In the aftermath, the community comes together and rebuilds, rekindling its bacchanalian spirit as a historic surfing community, one with its own quirky codes and surf culture. And Cardwell’s surfing takes off as she finds a true home among her fellow passionate longboarders at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, living out “the most joyful path through life.”
Rockaway is a stirring story of inner salvation sought through a challenging physical pursuit—and of learning to accept the idea of a complete reset, no matter when in life it comes.
DIANE CARDWELL is an award-winning journalist who has covered a variety of subjects, including alternative energy, popular culture, politics, crime, and New York’s hospitality industry. A former reporter for the New York Times, she was among the inaugural writers of “Portraits of Grief,” the Times’s signature profiles of those killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, and helped found Vibe. She lives, gardens, and surfs in Rockaway Beach, New York.