It’s been about six years but I still figured I would pick it back up easily, muscle memory and all. The trucks were looser than I like and I stepped back off just as quickly as I stepped on. TJ watched me, quite amused, as I struggled to gain my balance on the board and started rolling. It took a moment, but after a few minutes I was skating around the parking lot like I had for countless hours when I was growing up. The sound of the urethane wheels rolling over the pavement was drowning out my apparently shouting former roommate.
“C’mon Cheese Hawk, let’s see a trick.”
I positioned myself, back to the dumpster, and pushed off toward the other side of the parking lot. About halfway across, I kicked down hard on the tail while lifting the front foot up and forward. I brought my front foot down hard, where the board should have been. Unfortunately this was not the case.
“You suck, I’m going home,” I heard as I picked myself up and dusted the gravel off my ass. I dodged the empty Coke bottle thrown at me out the window of his car as he pulled away. I grabbed the board and made my way for the front door. I stood there for a minute, key in the door, before I thought, “Why not just stay out here and skate, it’s gorgeous and all you’re going to do is shoot zombies on Xbox while you drink beer at a way too early hour.” I lit cigarette, emptied my pockets, took off my shirt and rolled the board out into the lot.
I also got a beer.
For the few minutes I rolled back and forth across the parking lot, failing attempt after attempt at the trick that used to be second nature to me. My glasses kept falling off as I looked down at the position of my feet on the board, I used to wear contacts. Regardless, after a few minutes I had landed the ollie and was suddenly feeling sixteen again. Except for the fact that every time I would stop, I had to catch my breath…I don’t remember ever being that winded after a skate when I was younger.
I stayed out in the hot sun for the next forty or so minutes, trying increasingly difficult tricks with little to no success before finally attempting to jump off my stoop onto the board, which ended with my face slamming directly into the GMC Yukon parked next to me. I picked up my glasses and checked to make sure all teeth were in place before heading inside.
I sat down on my couch and twisted a High Life, realizing that I was pouring sweat with a rapidly beating heart. “Shit,” I thought to myself, “I used to do this all day everyday and I never got this winded.” I stripped down and headed into the bathroom, lifting my foot to step into the tub and wincing as I realized my legs were stiff as shit. I stood there watching the steam roll over the top of the curtain, thinking about just how fucking sore I was.
When I woke this morning, my goddamn legs felt like they were going to break and my face hurt a little but was thankfully bruise free as far as I could tell. All I could think about for the entire drive to work was how badly I wanted to skate when I got home, and how badly my legs were begging me not to. I realized that, even at twenty four, my body is getting older.
I used to skate a few days a week from sunrise to sunset and never had the tight feeling in my legs like I do today. Then again I haven’t been so obsessed with skating since before I left for college, I’m hitting the lot as soon as work lets out this evening. I’m sure that I’ll bust my shit more than a few times, but I’ll get some cool looking scars in the process. Plus, the only strenuous activity I have gotten in the past year strangely coincides with Pitseleh coming to visit; needless to say I could use the exercise.
But one thing’s for sure, when I got back on that board yesterday afternoon for the first time in years, it felt good. I suddenly started thinking about the long summer days spent in the back lot of a Wal-Mart, an empty basketball court or a city park. I remember sitting with friends, smoking, skating and listening to music all day long. It felt good to feel that wind in my face, even if it has to get through a beard now. I felt like the Cheese of the past, not the bad one but the one I miss and wish I could still remember. That hour or so on the skateboard brought me closer to him than I have been in the past six years.
I can’t wait to get out again tonight.