“Es tut mir leid”
Have been some of the odd and strange cusses and phrases escaping my mouth this week as the road beneath frequently rises up to meet me, my arms outstretched, my face tensed for pain. Why the sudden increase in asphalt to face meetings I am happy to say isn’t due to a sudden and violent unbalancing shift in my personal centre of gravity rather after nearly ten years I have picked up a skateboard for the first time. Taking to the streets in an attempt to retrain myself, like riding a bike it is not. Not that I was ever very good at it to begin with.
As kids me and my younger brother were obsessed with, amongst the likes of wrestling, knights, kung-fu, Tekken, anything that involved hitting one another with sticks was skating. From the days of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 we played through to the likes of THUG 2, religiously. In the latter years 100 percent-ing the games with our skills having matured as well as our knowledge and access to cheat codes (unlimited balance and anti-gravity were particularly helpful). We loved it and so our parents lovingly bought us boards from the local toy shop, my brothers having been adorned by the Butt Ugly Martians an early morning animation best forgotten to the aeons. They weren’t the greatest of boards but to us they were the greatest the only trouble was we didn’t know how to skate. Instead of starting at point A and working to B through to Z we went straight for K. Trying to replicate the computer generated skills of Chad Muska or Tony Hawk or Bam Margera, attempting ollies and kickflips and nosestands that had long filled our youths. All we ended up achieving was hitting the ground, hard. The boards we had were designed to be skated not tricked and stunted. Limited to the small square of patio in our garden though there wasn’t a lot to skate to. So instead we found other uses, we shot each other down makeshift ramps or dragged one another around by hitching the board to a bicycle. We just messed around with them coming up with zany idea after crazed idea but the idea of actually skating faded into a dream. We continued to religiously play THUG though but our boards disappeared to the back of the shed, cobwebbed and unloved as new obsessions arose and took over.
Years came to pass and as I lay sick in bed one day, flicking through an Argos catalogue I chanced upon a board on sale. Twenty quid for a sleek plain wooden board, fresh grip, rubber wheels, the real deal (to me). I had been saving so I had the money but was sadly bid ridden so I begged my mum to go and get it for me. Thankfully she yielded. It was a great board, it sat there looking at me willing me back to health, days passed anticipation built. Eventually the day came when my sickness bug had passed and I instantly took to the board. I loved it but again I was none too great at it and at my tender age I quickly became tired and annoyed at my own inexperience, my own limitations to achieve all the madness I had pictured in my head. And so ten years went by in which I hadn’t touched a board but the love for it, the sport, the style, the skills, the desire to ride simmered and bubbled.
The desire and the dream to ride again, to learn, to be what I had always pictured in those childhood days is something that has long sat with me. It is only thanks to my girlfriend going all out in support of those ideas and dreams and buying me a board that I have been given my second wind in realising that long gestating dream. For which I am immensely grateful. It is only early days mind but even so everyday I rush home like a giddy child with a knapsack filled with sweets. I grab my board slinging my workbag into the corner before rushing back out to skate up and down and to trip and tumble and to crash down the street adjacent to my house. The falls are nothing they are all part of the exhilarating joy of skating to be living out a childhood dream, no, a dream. In all the exhilaration and joy though I wonder why did I ever hesitate, why did I ever give up, why did I wait. I love this, this is something I’ve thought about and dreamt of, why have I waited. If it hadn’t of been for my girlfriend would I have ever done it? That thought, that idea niggles at me even as I fly up and down the road and occasionally sprawlingly across it. It’s a good annoyance though, a fear even. I guess I was really gifted two things a board and a renewed drive to do a little more dream chasing.