I’d skate with Wes on weeknights and spend the night on weekends.  He lived about a five minute drive from my house.  He had the smoothest asphalt and a lot of space for a long kinked rollerblade rail, a two foot box with a decent length, an eighteen inch and foot tall box to learn on, that black Ramptech launch ramp and that yellow painted flatbar so many of us(or our friends) had in the early ’00’s(we eventually wore it down into an inverted rainbow rail over the years, making it a whole new rail to hit).

We would skate for hours, no matter the season, learning endless tricks, tricks I’d never thought I’d be able to learn or do.  Flipping regular, fakie, nollie and switch into grinds and slides.  Wes was a beast.  No fear.  He had pop that could easily compete with the pros of today, as much as at the time, he was part of the group that called hardflips, easyflips, with a smirk.  So natural and so confident on the board.  He would learn tricks on his two foot box, hardly ever used the twelve inch, and laughed through grinds and slides on his eighteen inch, plus, he was shorter than I was, I’m 5’9″ on a good day, but Wes popped with ease like he was 6’5″.

Wes definitely pushed me without either of us even knowing it.  I wouldn’t have learned nollie kickflip noseslides on his eighteen inch box that first week we started skating if he wasn’t skating the way he was.  I just hadn’t had met someone my age, that was a friend, who skated that well and that consistently.  Even in our early twenties, one day he learned a kickflip frontside fifty first try, out of nowhere without notice of even, “I want to try…” we were both blown away, but after the shock wore off he laughed as he rode back, “So how I thought you do that trick was right.”

Wes, at the time(and whenever he steps on a board), would just slaughter, “I’ll give you a hundred bucks if I don’t land this crooks inward heel.” Boom, landed first try, same with nollie heels out of crooked grinds, every single try, back in ’00.  He learned switch tails on his two foot box opposed to the eighteen or foot tall one, same with any trick he wanted.  The twelve and eighteen inch box quickly faded from lack of his personal use and the two foot box, yellow adjustable flatbar, launch ramp and two-and-a-half foot kinked rail were all we had.  Until we built a miniramp.  Hours were added to our skating.

After skating or between skating, we’d smoke pot, smoke cigarettes(if we had them), watch skate videos, talk skating, eat junk food, his parents had a drawer devoted to candy and sweets and a shelf in the pantry devoted to the delicious sweet, savory and salty snacks, every cracker, cookie and chip available, in basically all forms, just like the candy drawer(we had a Costco nearby).

We would get stoned in the garage, half the time we would get caught in the garage, his mother yelling from the patio built above, “I can smell that!  Put it out or George goes home!”  We would smoke on the roof, with an easy climb out from a window in Wes’ bedroom, we just had to stay away from the half of the house that his parents’ bedroom was under.  During sleepovers, stay up all night rambling about philosophy, (being 15-17)ramble about girls and celebrity women/girls, watch skate videos, talk about how we wish we could go out and skate the driveway in the middle of the night, talk about tricks we wanted to learn while smoking weed or cigarettes on the roof.  Going out onto the roof staring at the stars and rambling away, always finding excuses to laugh until we couldn’t breathe.

His mini ramp we built at his parents’ house was amazing, Wes’ house was always a challenge, but in the best way, always making you be the best you were, pushing yourself farther in positive and developmental ways.  Throughout the years, he and I have always had the familial connection, skating, seeing the world in the same way.

Wes stopped skating for a few years in our mid to late teenage years.  We connected back up and nothing had changed, we even stole a plastic bench from a school basketball court to bring to his house for our training ground(the box gone and kinked rail in pieces at the kinks).  A playground parking lot, maybe a minute drive from his parents’ house was littered with four or five boxes, depending on the time, we even took Wes’ kinked rollerblade rail over.  Then one day, someone couldn’t put up with such delinquent behavior and had all the boxes and Wes’ rail removed.  We showed up to an empty parking lot.  After that we stole the plastic bench and skated it until we wore through the edge and stole a second to skate, until I moved out of state in my mid-twenties.

While hanging out and skating with Wes in our teenage years, I met Alex Mendizabal.  Another true skater, another introvert, outcast and fringe member.  Alex lived in Alexandria VA, a much more urban, but just as old neighborhood, as mine, part of Historic DC, even dating back to when slavery was legal, where auctions were held in Alexandria’s courthouse yard, a decent skate spot with brick ground, stairs, kinked rails and ledges.  An easy bust if you hit the ledges, the stairs were at the edge of the courtyard and the furthest part from the buiding, it took a good few minutes on a busy weekend to have the security guard take notice.


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