a skateboard into the past

Today I rode a skateboard,
while remembering another one
I once barely got to ride.

When I was in middle school, my mom knew I was fascinated with skateboards. Since she was forever stuck with junker cars that lasted only a couple of months before croaking, she wanted me to have wheels that would last. She scrimped and saved for months before that Christmas to buy me a kick-ass board.

I was so proud of that board, I almost immediately showed it off to a schoolmate whose mom stopped by our house.

The schoolmate was so impressed, he immediately told his friends.

Within a couple of days, one of those friends broke into my home and stole the board.

I was crushed. I’d been building up confidence to really ride it, this rare and beauteous first-hand gift, and now wouldn’t even get that chance.

When school was back in session, my schoolmate told me who’d stolen my skateboard.

The skateboard thief returned it to me, but it had been sanded down and totally reworked. While I could see the bones of my board in it, it was no longer my special board.

It was no longer my mom’s amazing gift to me, but something forcefully made second-hand.

It was now the board someone else had wanted it to be.

I was done with it.

In 2007 or 2008, my boyfriend at the time took me to buy a longboard. I intended to ride that sucker all the time, but soon moved back to Los Angeles, where I’d attended graduate school earlier in the decade.

The streets in my new neighborhood weren’t as friendly as those in my old Oregon one, so I barely touched my board.

Same end, different board.

After I had my first child, I’d occasionally try a short roll on the board. I could keep my balance slow-rolling on flat surfaces, but that was about as far as I got.

A few months back, I noticed my younger son, Littler J, had started coloring all over, stickering, and otherwise modifying my board. In less decorative moods, he’d pull it out from under our sofa, lie on the board, and gently rock it back and forth.

He didn’t take the board; it just sorta, in my mind, became his.

I told him it was his.

A few weeks ago, I asked my older son, Li’l D, if I could use his skateboard.

“Sure, for a buck a day!” he told me.

“I’ll give you ten cents a day,” I countered.

“Twenty?” he asked hopefully.


“Fiiiiiiiiiine,” he replied with an eye-roll.

(This was more than I got from my younger son, whose answer to the same question was an emphatic no.)

Using Li’l D’s board for practice, I felt an itch to do more and not have to pay my son for it.

I bought a longboard with the image of a fir tree on its underside;

a few days ago, it reached me.

Another life

I took it out for a spin a couple days ago. Some part of me must have imagined I’d be an instant expert; I was bummed when my feet ached worse after seven or eight minutes rolling than they had after running entire marathons in another life.

Today, I took it out again and rode. Knowing better than to expect instant pro-dom this time, I paused and walked whenever a ridge in the sidewalk looked too big or my feet got too sore–the first time, after a measly three minutes, and then every thirty seconds thereafter.

I didn’t move fast, and none of my pushes propelled me too far. And yet:

It. was. wondrous.

I’ve written about how PTSD makes my years fall away so that I’m ten years old and trapped. Helpless.

Today, I fell back in time, but it was a totally different kind of falling.

Today, I was ten all over again, but a different part of ten than I can remember when triggered:

The ten-year-old who screamed at Dad to stop;
the ten-year-old who stood up for her sister;
the ten-year-old who said, “That’s wrong,”
sometimes, even knowing
what hurt would follow.

the ten-year-old whose life circumstances meant
she kept getting trapped, but who, despite that,
somehow kept finding a way out.

With or without a skateboard, I saw
that ten-year-old could be pretty amazing;
and I felt her fierce nearness with gratitude today.

Today I rode a skateboard,
while remembering another one
I once barely got to ride.

Today, I rode a skateboard
into the past, and rode it back
to the future with a newfound thanks
for having survived;

for everything that led me to

(and for how,
a decade since my mom last breathed,
it somehow feels like my mom’s
last gift to me)

This life

2 thoughts on “a skateboard into the past

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