It was far too late when I realized how silly I must have looked standing in my underwear in the parking lot of a skatepark. I had just come from an interview for an editing job and had decided to go skateboarding immediately after — a perfect storm of adolescence meeting adulthood.
Using my open car door as a changing-room curtain, I swapped out my “formal” outfit for a band t-shirt, black skinny jeans, and black Vans (which describes about 90% of my wardrobe’s potential outfits). My head was pulsing from a goose-egg-sized bruise on the top of my skull and a crescent-shaped cut under my left eye from a pointless scuffle I had gotten into at a show the night before. Looking at me, I must have appeared a mess; but on the inside, I felt on top of the world.
I didn’t end up getting that editing job. I don’t think I even came close.
In fact, I still don’t have a full-time Journalism gig. I’ve been searching on and off ever since the newspaper I worked at ceased publications in September of last year. On top of that, some other major life changes seemed to suggest that everything that I thought was good in my life must end and that all of my efforts are just frugal attempts that made me question why I even went to college in the first place. I kept landing interviews, but wasn’t landing jobs. That’s when skateboarding decided to (literally) crash back into my life.
I hadn’t seriously skateboarded in around five years — maybe even longer. It started as just a conversation between friends. “We need to get back into it this Summer.” I would have never guessed that it would’ve have taken off with the enthusiasm that it did. I started getting back out to skate parks at least once a week. My friends were equally on board, starting group chats to schedule weekly sessions and even crafting their own obstacles to skate at home What started as a three-person group quickly expanded into a group of about a dozen old dudes giving it their all.
It all began to come back to me. All of the tricks, the fun, and most importantly: the drive. I’m learning new tricks that I was never able to land before, even back in my “prime” when I was skateboarding almost every day (when I was around 17, maybe?)
Now in my late-twenties, I’m realizing that the most important lesson I ever took away from skateboarding was to shrug it off, get back up and try again. It’s something that I subconsciously understood when I was first learning to skateboard, but didn’t fully grasp until now when other areas of my life could benefit from that same sort of mentality. I used to spend hours trying to get that one trick on the flat bar at the skatepark. I used to bruise up my shins dedicating days to landing that one flip trick in my mother’s driveway.
So why do I now let things like having my resume disregarded after a few tries make me feel hopeless? Why do I ever doubt myself? I used to throw myself down staircases trying to land a trick over and over and over.
Did I lose that determination just because I now have a few gray hairs?
My parents taught me many important life lessons. But I honestly believe that only skateboarding could have humbled me in this way. Sometimes I really hate that moment when I’m trying my hardest only to end up kissing the concrete. But hell, I really don’t know what I would do without it. To those who have never skateboarded, there truly isn’t anything I can compare what it’s like to land a trick you’ve been trying all day to. What I can tell you is that even now, that feeling is exactly the same as it was when I was a teenager. Getting back into skateboarding has resurfaced a sense of drive that at some point in the past couple of years was buried deep inside of me just because a few things in my life didn’t quite stick the landing.
Maybe all I needed was a reminder — kind of like a younger version of me, traveling into the future to laugh and say, “Time to get back up and try again, old man.”