Skate, skate, skate.

Kay is in the other room making a recording of a piece he just wrote for his sound arts class. He was supposed to describe a place where he has taken some sound recordings. His writing has made me want to write. See, while he was making recordings, I was too.

If you haven’t already, tap play above and you can hear what I got while you read this. Very interactive. Very exciting.

We went to the skatepark in Foster City to meet Jeff and skate around. Skating is something I just started doing again. No, I wasn’t one of those awesome skater kids as a teenager, then gave it all up for a corporate life, only to come back to it later in life and take the skating tour by storm. My friends and I used our boards in the late 70’s and early 80’s mostly for transportation. We never built half pipes in our backyards and the ramps we made in the street were pretty low and used mostly for our bikes.

We road our skateboards to the school to play kickball, we road our skateboards to the arcade to play video games, and down to the corner store to buy Reese cups and cream soda. We wiped out in the sand that gathered near the storm drains at the bottom of the hill that was the street where we lived and we flew through the air when our boards stopped beneath us, a pebble too big not to act as brakes. We didn’t wear helmets. We didn’t wear pads. We sanded the skin from our knees and elbows and yelped when those open wounds hit the hot water of the shower.

Since skating was just transportation and not a lifestyle for us, it fell away when we got better bikes and then disappeared completely when we learned to drive.

What brought me back? I don’t know. I like what skating grew into. I always related to the skate culture and was drawn to the laid back lifestyle. I wear the clothes, especially the comfortable shoes, and have had a long board leaned against my living room wall for years.

So when Kay and I walked into Atlas Skate Shop to say hello to one of his buddies that worked there, I felt less intimidated to check out the boards and ask questions. And when I saw the board I eventually bought, again I was drawn in by the style, the art of the board, the simplicity. 

I rode it a couple times proving to myself once again how out of shape I am.10 minutes in to pushing myself down the road I was sucking wind, my right thigh was on fire, and the achilles tendon in my left ankle felt near snapping in two.

I probably would have just laid this one against the wall next to the long board if Jeff, and then Kay, hadn’t gotten boards as well. As with all things Jeff takes to, he started geeking out on technique and started to work on tricks, pushing me to at least attempt doing the same. I still cannot do tricks.

But that’s okay. I’m happy to slide along the pavement, my smooth, soft, fat (decidedly non-trick) wheels whirring beneath me. Kay and I will ride downtown once in a while to grab food, we skate over to an elementary school near my house to weave between the lines of the parking lot and fall off curbs, and I’m happy with that.

Since starting again I have fallen off the board plenty of times, but have only hit the ground once. I tried to skate through the narrow space between to curbs in a parking lot. I had gotten cocky. I hit the edge of one of the curbs. The board stopped and I flew again, just like when I was 10 or 11 or 12. I hit the ground harder, much harder than I ever did as a kid. I bruised the meaty part of my palm and took some skin off my knee and elbow. And though I popped back up saying that I was fine, that fall pretty much sealed the deal that I wasn’t about to start trying to do crazy kick flips and rail grinds.

So, what you’ve been hearing in the recording is the creak of my board as I sway gently through the park, Jeff working on tricks in a very methodical way, and Kay going for it, his board sometimes shooting across the pavement. There are people playing tennis in the background, planes heading to land at SFO, motorcycles passing on the street. You hear Jeff giving me tips he learned from hanging out at this park and talking with the small crew of old guy skaters who are there bright and early, before the kids arrive. You hear hesitation maybe. You hear me skating to the far end of the pavement where there are no rails or transoms or drop-ins. You hear me justifying why I don’t feel the need to try to learn tricks. You hear the kid I was still scared to leap for fear of coming down too hard.