My new normal had become, skate park on the weekends, reading magazines at the grocery store, hoping to get a trip to the skate shop to hangout. I started blowing through product a lot faster, learning more about the companies and what they represent. I met a kid that lived out on the main hill and forested road who skated, just a few hundred yards from my neighborhood, Jimmy. He had an eight inch tall, empty and slick with thick paint, brick planter attached to the front of his house and built into the driveway. It could only be boardslid with the gaps in the bricks, but it slid so well and felt so good to hear that sound and feel that grit and roughness of powering through boardslides across a brick ledge, the planter was nearly twenty feet long, you could do these(what felt like) gnarly and raw twenty foot boardslides, the long grinds and slides… I still crave them.
At the skate park I would try to learn, as well as on my parents doorstep, but the skate park had more legitimacy than my lightweight rail and doorstep curb. Then it happened, like a gift from the universe, for reasons unknown to me at the time, and only an assumption nowadays, the county sent a construction crew, they replaced a section of pebbled curb between my parents’ and neighboring property line… and they replaced it with smooth white cement, a good fifteen feet long. I had my curb to learn on without regard. I smeared that fifteen feet in wax, even led to a sewer grate with a metal plate edge, the manhole easy enough for me to lift as a child and climb in for any fallen board. As I’ve mentioned, my street is rough, slightly humped for drainage, the street, gutter and curb was harsh. I had to ollie out to the curb over the line and gutter, I still loved it. Figured it out and learned endless long grinds on it, the wax has long since washed off, being the swampy and rain filled land of the Washington DC area, but the dent I put in that curb, down to the pebbles(makes me feel like I grinded down to the axle of the curb), will be there until the county replaces the curb from weather, long after I’ve looked at it one last time, it’ll probably out live me.
After a day of learning five-O shove-its, I was determined to land a kickflip, if I could shove-it out of a five-O on a curb, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to commit to a kickflip. The problem is, hucking a flip trick without the intention of landing it, and learning how to flick it while keeping your feet over the board, are two very different things. I could land kickflips in the grass(with a lot of effort and attempts), just not while moving. I flung kickflips for over an hour. I remember, I had a navy pair of Sheep Shoes, an Element Section Graphic. I don’t even remember how ugly it was, I just remember riding away. I ran inside screaming to my parents that I had kickflipped. I begged one of them to come out and take a picture, judging by the picture my mother took(which I’m sure is somewhere at my parents house) the second kickflip was just as weird looking as the first. As soon as I landed it, the tricked clicked and locked into my brain, I rode away from nearly every other attempt that evening. Next to the ollie, the kickflip opened me to a world and place of skateboarding I could only dream and imagine of.
Mike, (now)my sister’s boyfriend, from the next neighborhood over, learned of my kickflip and saw my consistency, told me how to position my back foot to varial flip and backside flip. I couldn’t stop, regular, fakie, I started trying to throw them all switch in hopes to feed my blood-lust for another roll away. I started figuring out fakie bigflips, half-cab flips, frontside half-cab flips, fakie 360 flips. Mike even threatened to take my board away due to my rate of learning, a huge ego boost to me, but due to my school life and what I was being put through there, I also feared he actually would take my board away, so I learned but never showed him. I couldn’t stop once the sun went down, no matter how late it set in the changing seasons, I was in the garage learning flatground, watching videos inside for a break, flipping through the magazines I had and staring at the photos I had taped to my walls, covering everything but the ceiling in Transworld(I’ve mentioned, Thrashers became too coveted and read, time and time again. Transworlds, I would stare at all day and had the photos surrounding me).
My friend from down the street was slowly losing more and more interest in skating, we would hang out and have sleepovers after I was done skating. Jimmy, the kid just outside my neighborhood, seemed to watch me boardslide his brick planter ledge more than skate himself, I would mostly just skate by myself, it was easy being alone. No care or judgement, I could try anything, get as frustrated as I wanted, throw my board in anger of the hundredth something try of doing the exact same thing and not riding away, the definition of insanity by some. My curb, street and rail giving me the chance to skate lines, rail trick, flatground and then hitting the curb with something, maybe another flatground trick, hit the curb again, another flatground trick and do a grind or slide up the rail, or trying to attempt that line with different tricks until I missed one. The semi-daily mix of Mike joining for an hour or two of skating, tracking down the two walk-able friends that weren’t really into skating and mostly progressing on my own and skating alone, this went on for another year.
Jimmy’s dad(his parents were divorced) went on business to California and bought a copy of Rodney Mullen VS Daewon Song, we watched it for weeks before he gave it to me from my obsession with it, and his own anger towards his father and situation, plus a lack of general love for skateboarding, to him it was just something that was cool, not something that was him or who he truly was. I watched it on the daily with the 411’sI had come across, High Rollers and Welcome to Hell. Then, Thrill of it All came out. I remember bringing it home from the shop and tearing the plastic wrap off it. Watching it the first time through, seeing new names, learning of caveman tricks from Mumford, seeing Erik Ellington do the drop to back fifty. That video was another game changer. The tech skills of Rodney Mullen VS Daewon Song, the straight gnarly vicious skating of Thrill of it All and Welcome to Hell, then I came across Zoo York Mixtape. That was downtown Silver Spring according to what I knew, the granite, urban spots, this video was what I saw on the tail end of my drive to East of Maui skate park every weekend.