“I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today.”
I’ve made a new friend in Lufkin, Texas. In a small storefront tucked next to a vintage movie theater, the two of us are skating down memory lane while standing in his newly opened skate shop.
“They want to ride pipes, rails, and benches,” he said.
I shake my head.
“Yeah, I know. Where’s the vert?” I said, my eyes drinking in electric energy of the exposed brick walls lining his new shop.
Colorful skate decks hang from the walls, t-shirts drip from racks, and years of experience awaits behind the counter.
Kindred spirits are rare in life. When you meet one, you need to stop and let the moment unfold. On that night, I let the universe have fun.
Old school skaters, particularly those of us who grew up with makeshift wooden ramps or jumped fences at the sight of flowing concrete waves, are still holding onto our memories with clenched fists. No matter we own mortgages, have kids in college or watch our 401K plans like we once poured over the baseball standings, we will never let this particular ember of our lives fully extinguish. Like the long-healed scars on our elbows, the memories are always just below the surface waiting to escape into the daylight.
I look away from the dozens of colorful skate decks displayed on the wall and turn to my friend.
“Is there anything else in the world like the thrill of dropping-in off the side of a half-pipe or deep concrete bowl?”
We both discovered our heads slowing shaking from side to side as we reignite the familiar rush of adrenaline of those moments – at least in our minds. His black, flat brim cap dips downward in either holy reverence or the pure muscle memory of the last move you make as you push yourself down a vertical wall of concrete.
Granted, it is difficult to explain the rationale for stepping off the edge of a perfectly good concrete swimming pool-style bowl and pressing tiny rubber wheels against the vertical wall as you feel-fall to the bottom. Each drop-in contains that ever so brief moment of chaos laced with the potential for seriously dangerous bodily harm. And it is exactly that moment my new friend and I are remembering as our heads sway together.
I tell him about the favorite decks I’m currently riding – both from one of our favorite skaters from our youth. I call out the lengths, the trucks, and wheels like a couple of old men leaning over the open hood of vintage muscles care to discuss cams, carburetors, and horsepower.
I guess in a way, we are those old guys. While my friend wears colorful sleeves of tattoos and my hair refuses to give up the 1980’s, surrounding ourselves with the tools of our youth is akin to a shot of double-espresso to our souls.
For those brief moments we are time travelers; only we roll on little urethane wheels.