Working out at the edge of the yard, by the derelict train tracks, stacks of rusty metal and a toppled over 30' silo that looks temptingly skatable, I sing songs to myself while securing large pallets of wood with steel banding. You crank the metal band with a ratchet device, and hope that it doesn't snap and recoil into your face (safety goggles are a must). The patented Flatlander method involves keeping the banding attached to the spool until it is firmly crimped in place, thus minimizing sharp, jutting edges. The wood I am sorting has been sitting there for a while, and many organisms have made it their home: centipedes, wasps, beetles, snails and potato bugs all scurry haplessly when I dislodge a beam. There was no warning given that their home was about to be disrupted; no public works notices that their woodpile was slated for dismantling. Somehow, these homeless creatures will find a way to start anew. Such is the mysterious energy of life.
Myself and the three other guys I'm working with are released precisely at two, after spending the better part of the last hour trying to look busy while chewing the fat and kicking sticks around the newly cleaned yard. Walking home is when my steel-toed shoes feel heaviest. But my heart was light; it was Saturday afternoon and working was through for the week! I went skating in the later afternoon, at the ol' Bease fishbowl/park. The sun was relentlessly warm, but nice. Now that I'm old I sweat. I sweat profusely, the same way my father used to sweat--the way that used to gross me out back when I was young and dry. I didn't fall while skating the park. I had fun and busted a few moves. But I could use some new terrain. It's also time to trade in my 7 1/2 incher for a full 8 inch wide model. I need some extra wood under my feet to feel secure these days.
On my way home I tried something stupid: skating down the sidewalk while carrying a twelve of beer. Brewed in the north end--just down the street from the house, in fact--my case of beer took a tumble when my skateboard hung up on a pebble. I rolled it out, scraping my knee and elbow, trying to cradle the bottles, which landed upside down on the sidewalk, all twelve beers miraculously unbroken. I took this as a sign that despite all my foolishness, my years of avoiding work, my resentment now that I actually have a job, my inability to stop skateboarding and dreaming about making rap music at the age of 33--despite all these things, God still loves me. Walking down the street, my twelver under one arm, my skate under the other, I felt a kind of grace. Working, skateboarding, beer--is there more to life than this? Most likely there is, but it's not necessarily a better kind of more.