“The essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”- Allan K. Chalmers
Dirty concrete. Billboards. Ribbons of oil-stained road. People fly by in their cars, oblivious to the disintegrating world that litters the overpasses and dead end streets nearby. The homeless clutter and huddle there, sharing needles and poisoned blood. Glass bottles become the only sound that brings any comfort in a world gone horribly wrong. A fairly young man stands and peers into the twilight. His sparse beard is dirty and his skin yellowing from jaundice. Hepatitis… or maybe something worse.
He had rolled around in a dirty car with a twisted guy on a filthy night. He needed the money and the drugs his body craved had removed caution and self-esteem a long, long time ago. San Jose had once been kind to him. He rode bicycles and skateboards. He loved his family. He once dreamed of a new age dawning. It didn’t last. Teenage years disappeared. Drugs. Low places. He gave up his skateboarding friends. They had phoned him and gave him hell. “Put the pipe away dude! Come skate.” But, his new friends ridiculed skateboarding. “When are they going to grow up?” He looked away and followed their lead. He didn’t need to skate. He became hard. Part of the crew. Streetwise and in the gritty loop. A year flew by in a minute. He found himself in a shadowed doorway. The quest for job opportunities and a better life paled in comparison to seeking the soothing rush of opiate armor that he now clothed himself in. Blurry blood. Disease. Inside the sickness. He watched as the cars burned past on the freeway. He looked down and saw blackened pieces of chewing gum on the concrete sidewalk. He felt like one of them. Scuffed. Forgotten. Boot heels. Moving over to an abandoned, piss-stained couch, he sat down and wondered where to go. “How in the hell…?” Regret was a word that stuck close to his tongue. He wouldn’t admit this even to himself. He had made some pretty poor decisions. Trucks hurtled past him. He sat. Numb. He soon drifted off. His dreams were no longer of life, happiness and youth.
A few miles away, Lake Cunningham Skate Park glitters under the afternoon sun. Riders fly through its perfect corners and round bowls in every direction. Smiles are everywhere. Skaters work on tricks. Fear is conquered. Self-esteem is gained. The long road up to the light.
The skate park serves as a place where people can gather and progress. They need to stay wary. Vice. Thug life. A dark mentality. It is around every corner. One must be ever vigilant. The family of skateboarding. It can save a life.
Thank you to Steve Potwin and Dan Sparagna for the images. Skate… and never stop – Ozzie