Withdrawn. Isolative. When I was young, I remained torn between wanting to ‘fit in’ & damning the ‘accepted’ to the seven hills in Hell. Insecurity was a constant shadow & everything & everyone was scary. Few things were certain. However, one thing that always remained constant, in my chaotic teenage nightmare, was my skateboard.
I am not sure if anyone felt the way I did, but growing up was a terrible experience. The things that interested me, were absolutely horrific & unnatural to my peers & the locals around me. Pennsylvania was a place filled with old people & even older ways. I loved reading books, punk music & skateboarding. In the world around me, you either hunted & killed animals, worshiped in churches regularly or bashed someones brains in, while playing football. I need not explain the serious discrepancies that I saw evident in all that!
You behaved & listened to authority. I was at odds with everything around me. My blood burned & throbbed in my temples. Football , church & hunting!? I wanted to scream my anguish at the gods & make them recognize me again. Church was for giving your soul ‘peace’. I recall liking church. I loved the quiet stillness, but hated the punishment. The only time I felt content & at peace with the world, was when I was rolling on my skateboard.
I rode alone…mostly. I pretended Tony Alva, Jimmy Plummer, Ray Bones Rodriquez & others were there. I played ‘most one-wheelers’ with Jerry Valdez, riding my half-pipe with its cinder block coping. In my mind, I was at ‘Buddha pool’ in the San Fernando valley. I would leave my house in the morning, and push down the cracked & buckled, asphalt roads. I would push & push between green, eerily -whispering cornfields, stretching out to either side of me.
About four miles away, was a local 7-11 type market. It had an asphalt bank beside its parking lot with a flat top. I would skate over there & do ‘rollouts’ like Rick Blackhart. I would pull ‘berts’ & slides. I was in heaven because – in my mind- I was no longer in Pennsylvania. There was a ditch-like reservoir down the street that Jim Howell & I called the, ‘Beer bottle basin’. We would sweep & ride it until dusk, then I began the long muscle-straining push homeward.
I would get home after dark; exhausted & happy. I had spent the day skating past couples, kids & families. I came into contact with groups of people at the market & elsewhere. Yet, no matter what I did, I felt alone with everybody. That feeling occurs to this day. Some nights, loneliness can cover me like a stifling blanket. On those nights, I put ‘Seven Summer Stories’, ‘Skateboard Madness’, or “Search for Animal Chin’ on the DVD & bring myself back around. Skateboarding can always ‘talk me down’ from my ledge. I only hope that it always will. Thanks to Jim Goodrich for the image. Skate-Ozzie