There was a skatepark built in Bradenton the year I moved away. It was sort of like how my parents replaced the thousand pound beast of a lawnmower I had to push around through middle and high school with a sleek, easy-to-maneuver model as soon as I was out the door.
At the time I was driving down to Bradenton fairly frequently but I never went to the skatepark. I think I was never around when it was open, or when I was around I didn't want to be shown up by a bunch of little kids. Plus, I was spending less and less time skating. My skating friends had either moved away or moved on to other pasttimes, and, like with running, I was beginning to feel...not sure really, sort of like I was feeling my limitations, I guess. And with a lack of people around to push me to get better, I just sort of slowly stopped.
I had a newish Alva John Gibson board which I liked, although it was nowhere as smooth as my old Eddie Reatgui with the Conan/He-Man graphics, which was my favorite board ever. Check it out:
Hey, I wonder what happened to those two boards? Both of my faithful readers could chip in and buy them for me for my birthday, making a middle-aged man very proud.
Hey, at least I'm not asking for a Harley, like most middle-agers.
One evening I was in town for what was becoming a long, protracted break-up. The skatepark was out of business and soon to be destroyed. On the way out of town I pulled up next to the abandoned skatepark. I turned the motor off, leaving only the tape deck and the headlights on. I was playing a tape of the Volcano Suns' "The Bright Orange Years" along with some Gainesville bands. I pulled my deck out of the car and shimmyed under the chainlink fence.
I didn't care that I was trespassing right in front of a major road.
"I'm a grown man now," I thought. "I'd like to see some rent-a-cop tell me to leave."
Then I started skating.
When I remember that night, I picture me carving all over the snake run, pulling off impressive grinds and slides illuminated by the full moon and the headlights of a late '70s Pontiac Bonneville.
I also imagine that the joyousness of Peter Prescott's howls through "The Bright Orange Years" mixed with my skating helped me realize that there was no reason to be miserable any more, that a new life was about to open up for me.
In actuality, I wasn't able to pull anything off, which I blamed on the dirt and pebbles in the bottom of the run. The breakup would continue for much longer than it should, resulting in much embarassment on my part, as well as a lot of letters which are hopefully burned or slowly rotting in a landfill somewhere.
But still, the image I have of myself skating that abandoned skatepark is pretty powerful, one that has almost supplanted the truth by now. When I'm lying in my poor person's old people home, wracked by the alzheimers while being ignored by my helper robots, I'd like to think that that's the one that will stick.
Because man, those little kids really would have shown me up.