Skaters Don’t Grow Old Gracefully

Somewhere between the nights I’d spent perusing the Sears and Roebuck catalog dreaming of Millennium Falcons and Air Jammer Road Rammers and the lazy evenings when my dad was on the road and we were watching Taxi reruns and being remonstrated not to “grow old gracefully”, I fell in love with skateboarding.

This was no small event. In some ways, it foreshadowed and formed my coming of age. One of my classmates remarked, “I’d go out with him if he’d get his nose out of those skateboard magazines!”

I was a loner and skateboarding was the perfect way for me to get out of the house, feel independent, feel freedom.

Hippers be damned, back then I’d even wager that there was no greater feeling of freedom than bombing down the hill to the middle school. Until, that is, you hit a rock camouflaged by the setting sun and get sent sprawling over the asphalt. I’d take a break, sit on the curb and wait for the nausea to pass.These moments served as enforced times of reflection.

I grew up in a small town that only existed because two “major” roads intersected. We had one grocery store, a hardware store, and as many liquor stores as churches.We had a town pool, but no movie theater. Employment opportunities included McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and myriad farms.

Succession of skateboards: red plastic banana board, pink and white Variflex, pink and blue Powell Peralta Steve Steadham, a baby blue Tony Hawk, a Schmitt Stix Ripsaw. After that, I can’t remember.

I skated from the 6th grade through college, when I picked up an 8 ply board, which seemed like a better bet since I was making regular visits to Burrito Brothers. Skating changed from a pastime to a way to get from one end of campus to the other. A way to get from the dorm to the used bookstore on the other side of town.

Graduation. Job. Living with my bro. Drinking beer and getting fat. Went back to school and studied painting. Skating evaporated from my daily routine. A fond memory.

FFWD 15 years of married life, three kids and two dogs later. I started taking my Skull and Sword reissue from 2005 to work for skate breaks. Around 2 or 3, I close my notebook, walk up the hill to the street by the broken down old industrial park where nobody is likely to see me and work on regaining my balance. Shoot, the other day I landed an ollie, albeit a sloppy one.

The first time I bombed down the hill back to the office, some cars came up behind me, I got nervous about the speed I was going and I bailed.

I’m 38. My ankles are stiff and crunchy.

The second time I took the hill, I slalomed down, dodging imaginary cones and using the speed bumps as braking points.

And for the rest of the day, I felt 20 years younger. Skaters don’t grow old gracefully. They become soul skaters.

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Digital warlock and all around mixed metaphor. Also, VP of Digital at Fifteen4.

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