My Open Letter to Skateboarding
But this is my open letter to tell the world what an amazing thing skateboarding is.
Today was 'National Go Skateboarding Day'. A day to appreciate skateboarding however you choose. For me, it's making sure you get out there, and not get frustrated. Even if it's a cruise or a full-on intense day. It's just important to remember how lucky I am to have found it.
I've been skating since.. age 8 or 9. More seriously since about 12. It started with a purple Rhino board that my brother gave me. I didn't know how to ride a bike yet (and didn't learn until very late) so this was my toy when everyone else was riding bikes. Sure it didn't go as fast as the others, but I didn't care. I loved this thing. I loved skateboarding, watching the skate videos, playing the video games, anything skateboarding.
It's taught me so much. It got me into a lot of music, the stuff that taught me to question everything and that people are stronger together and to be tolerant. It gave me tangible evidence that I was getting better at something the more I did it. At the beginning of the week you could start practicing a new trick and by the end have it dialed. Easy to review progress. Motivation. It introduced me and helped me bond with some of my best friends. Brought me on all kinds of adventures, beat the shit out of me, and has caught a lot of my angry flying fists and vulgarity. It's a bit of a love hate but I will cry tears of joy if I think about it for a while.
Go Skateboarding Day is every day. It's important to remember how fucking lucky we are that we have something we love. Something no one can tell us is proper, right, or wrong. No teams no competition. It's a rare event where you hope your friends can get better than you, so they can push you to get better yourself.
Learning a new trick is like having a new xbox at home when you're 10 years old. Except it's something you've created for yourself and earned and the feeling doesn't go away when you revisit it. And it's ready to be felt all over again on the next trick.
I've gone through skating with tens of friends from dusk till dawn, to skating solo in february after my 8 o'clock classes in college, to skating with one excellent friend at a time, and skating with a bunch of strangers at the park.
Skateboarding gets a bad wrap a lot and that's okay. A lot of skateboarders are assholes. So is any group of people. But when you get to a park and people have their head on straight and are having fun, there is no thing that's more enjoyable. You can actually triple how good you are by boosting on vibes alone. That's a fact look it up.
I was very absent from junior high and high school. Whenever anyone mentions it I know it was because I was out skating. It's all that really mattered. It was sometimes even a burden. I needed to progress, get better, have fun, and hate it at the same time.
In my older age it's become a form of meditation. When I'm on 4 wheels and wood there's nothing that can get into my head. It also gets rid of a lot of the crap out of my head. It truly purifies the mind I think. I can have the shittiest day, a horrible thing happening, all the projects due in the world, if I'm out skating it doesn't matter. I'm not saying that for any other reason than the truth. Seriously. It's a fucking smilefest.
I've broken bones and ripped off more skin than I can count. These are the wounds that I like. Any summer day with heat and sun is a day I'm ready to crash, fall, and tear off flesh on concrete. Falling makes me feel alive. It makes me sleep sound at night. It gives me a badge. Holes in my shoes from grip tape rubbing against them gives me flair that tells people I do this. It's a subtle nod in a room when you see their other shoe is just as ruined because they skate switch (think lefty in baseball or something). It's broken decks (the wood part of the skateboard) in your trunk or how you can use them to help boost up furniture in your room.
If it was not for the art, atmosphere, and attitude skateboarding brings I'd not be an illustrator today I don't think. It taught me I can wear exactly what I want and feel 100% confident in myself. And that if I want to be unique, I need to customize my stuff, whether it be my skateboard or clothes. It showed me that art is in everything we do, from a skateboarders' style, the graphic on a t shirt, or the graphics on the underbelly of a board.
I've surrounded myself with skateboarding my whole life I can remember. It's been an up and down battle but it's always been there for me. I hope I can do it for the rest of my life. If the choice was up to me I'd die a day before my body gives in and can't do it anymore.
This is my thanks to skateboarding, to every person I've ever skated with good or bad competitive or not. The vibes at the skateparks, the cops that have kicked me out of spots or even put cuffs on my hands. The handrails I've been on top of, the boards I've broken, the shoes I've ruined, the joints I've sprained and twisted. The kids that have asked me for pointers and those that have given them to me, the parents who have had real conversations asking me what it is that makes it so special at the skateparks. The local shops making it happen, treating kids like individuals and to my family for letting me pursue it. This is to the world of skateboarding.
I made the featured (top) illustration in it's name to try to tell a story. Not a story of a day or hour, but of a life. This is about the times I've had a stressful day at school and come home to a ramp, or a parking lot, a tennis court or a basement. I could forget whatever it was and just skate. It's also a high five to the homies that have skated with me in my life. Skating all over town, taking MART busses, eating shitty food, oatmeal cream pies. To my parents for bringing me to skateparks and sitting in the car reading a newspaper waiting for me to be finished. To my brothers for teaching me and really pushing it on me. This is to all of that. It's one of the few things I wouldn't trade for much.
I've loved skateboarding forever but it's taken me some maturity to realize the magnitude. On my second anniversary dinner date with Monica a few months ago we were talking about what appealed to each other when we first met. She mentioned skateboarding. And not just that I loved it but that I was good at it. Hah, that spun into a conversation of me talking about how much it means to me and I actually started tearing up thinking about it. Stupid piece of wood and wheels and some shitty turning mechanism. You've got me. But I know you won't let me down.
From day zero to forever. Skate & Destroy.