Rosebud.Submitted by Teephphah at 2005-08-16 13:12:30 EDT
Rating: 1.98 on 37 ratings (37 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
There was a time, back before I got too old, when I truly knew what freedom was. There was a time when all I had to do was walk out the door of my house to feel absolute joy.
That must have been about seventeen years ago now, circa 1986, 1987, 1988. I would have been around 7th or 8th grade then. Before I had discovered girls, booze or cigarettes. I was pure in mind, body and spirit and back then, I could fly.
If I close my eyes sometimes, I can still feel it.
I can feel the gentle concave of the board beneath me cradling my feet through the worn and duct taped shoes that my mother constantly complained about having to replace. I can feel the prickly-sticky grab of the grip-tape against my fingertips, sanding away the skin and leaving calluses behind. I can feel my body floating through space after checking sanity at the door and harnessing the forces of gravity and momentum to slingshot myself into the void beyond the coping’s edge. Confidently out of control.
I remember having the timing down. Knowing just when to flick my ankle or when to poke my toes back in to catch a slab of seven-ply Canadian maple spinning wildly on its lengthwise axis, never questioning whether or not the side with the polyurethane would be down, so as to cushion my fall and keep my speed. It would be. It was. Usually.
I remember sometimes reaching a level of mind-body unity that Olympic athletes would kill for. That eerie feeling of certainty that This Time, I Will Do It. I Will Land It. Racing toward a curb or a set of stairs or the lip and NOT thinking – just doing – what was in my mind’s eye. Kickflips, feeble grinds, smith reverts, 360 flips, fakie-to-nosepick-reverts, ollies over the spine – they all came that way. No more practice, no talking, just action. And satisfaction.
I remember pain. I remember the whip-crack speed with which a board can spring up if weight is properly positioned on the tail and a front foot slips off at just the right moment. I remember picking gravel and glass out of hamburgered palms, hoping that the hanging flap of skin would be able to reattach itself, skin-graft style. I remember falling from the coping straight now onto my knee on the flat, six feet below and having my entire leg from the knee down go numb for an entire day.
I remember outrunning security guards after waxing curbs at the courthouse. I remember telling a cop that my name was Mark Gonzalez when he wrote me a warning ticket, but not thinking ahead to give him a made-up address. I remember “Skateboarding Is Not A Crime.”
I remember skating 20 miles across town in a late October snow because Clint knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who said that someone had stolen a bunch of lumber and built a ramp in the woods. I remember not really caring if the story was true or not because the joy was in the getting there.
I remember that the stories were true, and continuing to skate 20 miles across town until the ramp became so run-down that it was too unsafe to skate. And never having met the people who built it.
I remember the adrenaline of spray painting “Bones Brigade” on the Gross High Ditch. I remember getting my Mom to drive me and all of my delinquent friends to the Fireman’s Ditch (R.I.P.).
I remember when Tony Hawk came to town. It even made the evening news.
I remember swearing to God In Heaven that one day, I would skate the Animal Chin ramp.
I remember my dad building me a three foot launch ramp. I remember all my friends being able to get bigger air off it than I could, until I learned how to ollie off that bitch. I remember feeling like the implications of my actions were bigger than I could comprehend the first time I decided to try to approach that ramp from the side and ollie-to-boardslide on the top of it, and pulled it off.
I remember feeling like a celebrity when Clint got sponsored. I remember feeling a little shitty for him that his sponsor was “Z-Roller Trucks.”
I remember that Earl, the crazy old guy who owned the skate and bike shop, would sell me stuff on credit, but none of my friends. He said I was a good kid.
I remember running into Earl a few years ago, and him telling me how proud he was of all that I’d accomplished.
I remember staring at the murkily translucent orange color of my old Indy bushings and wondering if the color was what made them so perfectly soft, or if they could have been any color, and just weren’t.
I remember going on long car-trips with my family, and being made fun of because, as I napped, I’d been “skating” in my sleep. Kicking the back of my mom’s chair as I ollied and mumbled out the names of tricks.
I remember reading every issue of Thrasher and TransWorld Skateboarding that came out, as soon as it came out, cover to cover. I remember when TransWorld interviewed Natas, and I HAD to own a pair of Limpies pants.
I remember wearing Skate Rags, even though I was too tall and skinny to pull them off and the elasticized bottoms rode above my ankles high-water style. I remember my JFA paisley and Suicidal Tendencies t-shirts. I wore them so often that each of them had holes worn through the right side, next to my kidney, from the grip-tape of my board.
All of this, I remember. I remember it as the most wholesome and innocent time of my life. For some reason though, probably girls, booze and cigarettes, I put all this behind me. And now, as a real grown-up man, I sit here and I think about what was.
They say you can never go home again. I wonder if that’s true.
I hope not, because last night my wife gave me the green-light to build a mini-half in the back yard.
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