Everything fucking sucks right now. This isn’t even a subjective statement anymore. We are in the objective twilight of human existence—fascism is on the rise, the world is on fire, a pandemic has swept the world, and capitalism is churning us through its all-too-strong jaws. Where my life once felt bolted down, it now feels unhinged, as if a living room got turned upside down and now all of the furniture lies broken, misplaced, and nearly unrecognizable. How could I be happy right now? I don’t know…I am not happy, but I also kind of am.
Skateboarding is one of the few things that makes me happy anymore. My partner does, my friends do, but nothing else really does much for me nowadays. I don’t have the bandwidth for anything. I am writing this at 1:30 am and I don’t know what the fuck is going on. But thank you, Skateboarding. You’ve been here for me, hell, you always have been; ever since my dad pushed me onto a board at the age of 7. This piece is not about my history with skateboarding. It is about now—right now.
I wake up, I work out, and I work. Autopilot. Just motion. I watch my limbs move and my mouth speak but I don’t feel anything. It is not numbness as much as it is the feeling that I am not even grounded in my own body; I’m just a slow observer of this thing that is me. Affordances, metaphysics, relations…whatever. But when I skateboard, I feel. There is a rush, sometimes I even smile. High highs and low lows. Howling pain after I kink a rail and fall down seven concrete stairs and look bewilderingly at my immediately swollen knee is nothing compared to how I feel when I land a new trick on the first try. Skateboarding is about committing. Just go for it. Know your boundaries, yes, but just. go. for. it. There is a joy in letting go. Skateboarding forces one to unshackle themselves from comfort. Moving on a board and contorting one’s body to do tricks are deeply unnatural states of bodily motion. It feels weird until it doesn’t.
I’ve stopped pushing myself so hard. Partly because it is hard to shake off certain injuries anymore. I’m not single. It would be selfish to continue to come home drenched in blood, needing stitches, or worse. There is enough to worry about, I do not want my girlfriend to worry about me. I love her too much to lay that burden on her. Your skate friends will tell you to shake it off, they’ll laugh sometimes, but they aren’t there at night when I am crying because I can’t bend my knee. She is and she is here for me, so I need to be here for her as long as I can be. Another reason that I am not going all out in skating anymore is due to cops. Fucking cops. APD has pretty much full reign over downtown Atlanta. Every spot gets swarmed. It sucks. I don’t even have the words for it.
Thus I have been focusing on weirder spots, odd skating, and small victories. More no complies and skating wider, weirder deck shapes. Turns out, it is fun as hell. Wax up a parking block and you’ll have fun for hours. Or I do. I have been skating more and more gaps and small rails and weird lines. It feels good to truly—I mean truly—treat skateboarding as an art form. I am no longer mimicking what I see my favorite skaters doing. I am searching and finally finding my own voice, my own style. Who cares how it fucking looks—it is mine. So I will continue to pull over my car when I see a weird curb or manny pad, I will continue to smile at the smallest of skateboarding victories, I will cherish the sound of trucks grinding against concrete, and, yes, I will continue to despair. How could I not? This piece is not about finding an answer to my misery or our collective malaise, it is about how skateboarding offers me (and maybe you) a temporary out. Being on that wooden board grounds me to the earth and to my own body. I don’t really have anything else to say besides that. I hope you find or already have something in your life that, to you, is analogous to what skateboarding is for me. You deserve it.