Thirty-one-year old Susie Samadzade was born and raised in Iran, moved to San Francisco in 2013, and began surfing at Pacifica’s Linda Mar Beach in 2015.

Susie grew up in Iran wearing hijab.

“It was really hard at the beach,” she says. “Some Iranian beaches are covered with big curtains to block off the women’s area. You can wear just a swimsuit, but only in the covered section.”

Susie says that when she was five years old, her mom taught her to swim in the Persian Gulf.

“I would lie on my mom’s back, put my arms around her neck, and hold onto her,” Susie says. “My mom would dive in, and I would see all these little fishes. I was connected to Mother Ocean and my mom.”

Susie works remotely on a flexible schedule, so she has made Linda Mar her customized office park.

“After spending too much money at Soul Grind,” she says of a beach-adjacent coffee shop, “I started parking at the beach every day, setting up folding chairs and a nice table in the back of my car, and using my hotspot for Internet access. I take Zoom meetings from my car wearing my bathing suit under my business suit. And when a meeting is over, I run into the water and surf, then come back to my car to take my next meeting.”

“Every time I surf, riding my board reminds me of my childhood, like I’m holding my mom,” she says. Susie’s mom lives in Iran. Susie hasn’t seen her since 2016.

“The first four years was because of the Trump presidency and all the sanctions,” Susie says. “And then COVID happened. But I got my U.S. citizenship two months ago and just got my American passport last week, and I’m planning to go to Iran in a few months.

“I miss my mom so much,” she adds. “She’s still a really good swimmer.”

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About the Author: Katie Burke

Katie Burke
Katie Burke is an award-winning author, San Francisco attorney, journalist, and surfer. Her first book, Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco, was critically acclaimed. Her next book, the forthcoming Sea Change: Women and Nonbinary People Reshaping Surfing Wave by Wave, is scheduled for publication in July 2023.

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