Annie Tworoger: Mother Surfer

Annie Tworoger
Annie Tworoger
Giulio Sciorio

South of Fifth Street in Miami Beach, there's a tight-knit little community that revolves around surfing. On the sand, the children run and play. The adults laugh, bang on drums, and eat. And everybody surfs.

This makeshift family exists in large part thanks to one person: Annie Tworoger. A Miamian by birth, she made her way to California at age 17 to try her skills on the surf circuit. After sustaining a back injury, she returned home with a son, Kai Man, and settled in SoFi. "I never thought I'd really feel home anywhere," she says. "As soon as I moved over to the Beach, I was like, this is home."

The water was and still is the best medicine for her injury, so daily surfing is a necessary part of the healing process. "I just started going every day with my son," she explains. "Then a lot more people started going. It just grew and grew, and now you can go there any given day and there are 20 to 30 kids running around, dads are playing drums on the beach, the moms bring all the snacks and treats."

In a largely transient city, where connections are often fleeting or parasitic, creating a dedicated, familial community is remarkable.

Tworoger chronicles waves and the people on them through photos. Her blog (and brand), 3rd and Ocean, describes human interaction, vast skies, raucous waves, and all the aspects of her beachside adventures. She also creates custom, one-of-a-kind trucker hats, as well as other gifts, and distributes them to surfers and friends far and wide. "I always do something straight from my heart, so when it's appreciated by someone else, it's like, wow, cool! I'm like a little kid like that."

Her ability to evoke openness in others has helped shape her own little piece of paradise. "I thought I'd be a gypsy forever, but when I came here, I was like, whoa, wait a second. You can't go five feet without seeing people you know. When you smile and wave at somebody and they smile and wave back, that makes everyone feel good. "

Indeed, her smile is infectious.

Tworoger's message for those seeking connection is simple: "Say hi to the people you walk by on the street and smile. A smile does so much, even if you don't feel like smiling."

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