The great times continued with Alex and I. Skating downtown, checking in at his house, then skating the yellow curbs at the grocery store(for the lighting) across from the school property he lived on. We’d head inside and get four candy bars/bags for a dollar(they always had that sale for different candy every week), eat two and skate more. Take the other two back to his house to watch skate videos, movies or play video games while rambling on and laughing before crashing for the night. At my house we’d head back from downtown, order a large deep dish pizza(usually with extra cheese) and a six pack of soda(generally root beer), and do the same, skate videos, movies, video games(on the outdated consoles I had) or a mixture of everything, bringing my box and rail to the front porch under the light, either up on the porch or against the edge to keep it lower for new tricks.
We started tagging along on every family trip we could finagle each other into. Holidays, vacations, nearly every trip was a go for both of us. This expanded our life, expanded our kinship, gave us more to remember, more to love, in ourselves, each other and this world, that’s what something as wild and feral as skateboarding will do to you, anything that’s a true example of this universe, the way skateboarding is, will set you free beyond your wildest imagination and bond you to this earth and those around in ways that can frighten a closed mind.
We traveled up the east coast together over and over, to Montreal numerous times. We skated across Belgium, Switzerland and Amsterdam, it’s like doing invisible art that only you experience and see, like covering the city in invisible ink, you ride by a ledge or spot, you know your mark, you move on, even if it’s just a block you rode down, you still made that invisible mark that you can see. Before you know, you’ve painted the entire city with skateboarding. You spread this, not your mark like a dog pissing on a hydrant, like McCarthy writes about worlds, you build this world, this mark only you, and those marking the experiences with you, have access to(like a sibling, a lover, a mentor), skateboarding paints and spreads your world in the true natural form(unless you belong somewhere else). The more we traveled, the more we expanded our world and our creation within our existence the closer we grew, hardly letting a girlfriend(or complaining about a girlfriend) get between skating. We knew this mutual obsession for skating and mutually wanted us to feed that hunger.
As strong as our desire for skating ran, just like all life, the memories meant as much as the present as we built more, stacked more experiences and times together. Traveling more, filming, photographing, we started making a video. The first one, we took really seriously, filmed for a year, traveled with each other’s families strictly to stack footage. It happened to land on a particularly good year for traveling, we had footage from Montreal to Virginia along the east coast, Brussels, Amsterdam and Switzerland, it was only parts from Alex, a friends section, myself and a “bonus” Europe section. I bought Studio 8 software to edit it on, not knowing that, at the time, Studio 8 was basically an STD for your computer, let alone a shit program for editing video, at least at the time. The first video, running maybe fifty minutes, had become out of sync after the Intro. But we muddled through, in the end, we only had one VHS copy made(which is currently in Alex’s possession after being lost for years at my parents’ house).
Soon after we made the video, Alex showed it to a guy who was opening a shop in the DC area with his childhood friend and got us sponsored, even offered to sell our video and give us a cut, if we could get my computer program to make more than one copy(which we couldn’t). We were sponsored before the shop opened, which never really took off. My personal best guess is that the childhood friend was stealing packages as they came in. One owner came from a lot of money, opened up an Atlanta record label after the skate shop failed, the other “owner” was selling product out of his car and apartment after the shop went under, and I saw the shop, was hanging out there everyday, this guy was selling product that the other dude was calling Fedex and UPS about for missing shipments that were signed for but never delivered, on top of the leftovers from the shop. Our sponsorship lasted about a year and a half, the one owner always claiming he would try and talk to company reps about getting us on flow while he was unknowingly burning his relationships with the companies about missing, but signed for, product, never questioning the co-owner, who was really good about feeding this guy drugs and drug connections.
While the shop opened, I had graduated high school, during high school I worked at veterinary clinics, after graduation I gave college a chance. I had no direction and a close friend committed suicide, so I took a leave of absence during the first semester and took on being a vet tech full time. Over the course of months, I transitioned from skate-rat into moving out of my parents’ house and spending most of my time struggling to live with a pill-addicted girlfriend, the bills coming in, doing nothing but working, driving to work and home and smoking pot while watching television to not think about the situation I was living in. It took about five more months to finally snap, I was struggling to even skate flatground in the parking lot of the complex I lived in, a fifty minute drive from the city without traffic. I couldn’t handle it anymore, I ended up having a breakdown and realized I needed to get out of that apartment. I moved back into my parents’ house and cut my hours back to part time, made just enough to buy what I needed to skate, food, pot and beer. Alex and I picked up right where we left, as did I and Wes, along with other skate friends I had, like D.J. Spaulding, we became like brothers during this period of my life, but he ended up in Florida after a little under a year of hanging out and skating three or four times a week, drinking and smoking six nights a week with a handful of friends, acquaintances and people you tolerated to keep the peace.
This was during the downfall of the shop, once it went under, Alex was in college and I was working part-time jobs, having moved back in with my parents. Working at CVS, for a riverboat company, the riverboat company worked me hard and paid me well, when that seasonal job ended I mostly just hung out with Alex skating downtown, with Mike Goldman, Shaun Gregoire, Zach Lyons(co-starring Danny Gotimer for awhile), and Allen Danze, if not them, just each other. Slowly the vibes downtown got worse and worse, Alex’s school was a five minute drive from campus and didn’t have the bad energy, so we found ourselves there more and more.
When we weren’t skating, we were living the skate-rat/pile life, drinking forties, usually Steel Reserve for price compared to ABV and smoking whatever weed we could come across with the money we had in our pockets. As long as the day ended with us satisfied skate-wise and buzz-wise, it was a good day, that was our only hunt.