Sunday, June 05, 2005



It's deadly weather today; too hot and humid for complicated movement. I went out for a spin on the board, but came home early. I have new shoes, and I'm tired of wearing holes through the toes after the second week of ownership. I'm having second thoughts about the skate camp, as well. For one thing, the person I would be replacing passed away last winter. I don't know the details of his demise, and nobody is too eager to talk about it. Not that I suspect a sinister plot to bump off skate camp counsellors or anything, it's just the metaphorical aspect of the situation that bothers me. The second factor in my not participating is that the meeting of the Skateboard Association is at the same time as my favourite tv show: the new Dr. Who. Sure, I could record it, but it might not be the same. I'm a creature of habit. The final factor is my changing attitude towards skateboarding itself. Maybe the tail of my board is just ground down too close to my back trucks, but I no longer feel secure while rolling. My wheels have almost worn down to the core as well, and I'm being thrown from my board by tiny pebbles that get caught beneath the polyurethane. I won't say I'm quitting; "skater" or "non-skater" are artificial categories of the mind which may or may not reflect actual reality. I just like to keep my options open.

On my way back from the skateabout today I took a longer way home so as to cross the wooden planked pedestrian bridge over the railway tracks. It is a redundant structure because everybody just cuts directly across the tracks to save walking up the two flights of aluminum stairs that support the bridge. The abandoned nature of the bridge makes it appealing: it's my own private platform for testing the wind and gathering omens. I hadn't been there in a while--since a full moon in winter, actually, when everything was silver, bare and creaking from the cold. Now the scaffolding is beset by lush green creepers that poke their leaves through the slats in the stairs. The floorboards of the bridge were bleached and baked, like driftwood in the sun, and waves of heat were rising from the gravel and steel of the train tracks below.

I didn't spend long on the bridge; it was too hot and my water bottle was almost empty. I strode to the middle of the walkway and took a quick look around. On a brick wall above a nearby garage I noticed some new graffiti. Someone had scrawled their tag in large, angular letters: LIFER. Aside from the name's connotations with prison culture, skateboarders have commandeered the term to denote a rider who's in it for the long haul. My friend Oldschool definitely qualifies; even if he gave up rolling tomorrow, he's made it further, and put more energy into the sport--for the simple love of it--than anyone I know. But am I a lifer? I don't know. I'd prefer to be a "nine-lifer" than commit myself to one particular cultural phenomenon. I love skateboarding. It has been a large part of my life, providing many experiences and benefits, and for that I'm grateful. But I have other pots and kettles on the hob that I would like to see through to completion, and it might be time to start shifting my chef's attention to some neglected aspects of the menu.

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