“We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own path, and we will never be happy if we live someone else’s idea of life.” – Van Praagh
Shawn walked slowly down the alleyway. He had his skateboard, some gear, a bottle of water and the day was just getting started. I was standing beside the truck waiting and when I saw him, I laughed. ” You look like shit.” What did you do last night… pole dance?” Shawn smiled and said something about my parentage. Peering into the truck, he asked, “What, you didn’t bring it?” I looked at the brooms, buckets and pool draining equipment and couldn’t figure out what I’d forgotten. I looked at him questioningly. “You left your ‘Style’ at home again?” He quipped. So it began. We loaded up and were on the road. We’d be meeting up with KB and Brandon in awhile, but we had to check a few pools first and bucket another that Shawn had located.
Shawn is moving to the east coast in a week or so and this was probably going to be one of our last pool missions together for awhile. We had been hunting, draining and skating pools together for about six years. Kindred spirits. I was bummed that he was leaving. He told me, “Life takes everyone in different directions. Sometimes our lives intersect with like-minded people. It is how the story goes…” We pulled onto a side street and looked at a pool. It was a shoebox. There were people squatting inside. I was a ghost. Back in the truck, Shawn told me about a capsule pool that he knew of. “I saw it about five years ago, but it sets in a cluster of houses back a long driveway. I think several families live at the property. There were always cars there. The front house is empty and yesterday, I walked back. It looks pretty good.” We were soon walking back the driveway. The house was empty and the morning was still. A dog barked nearby at our intrusion, but quickly lost interest in us and lay back down. It was already growing too hot to care.
The pool looked a bit steep but Shawn and I grinned. We liked them that way. There were sheds and garages on the property. There was trash and evidence of homelessness. The place was a bit of a mess. It was fairly easy to clean up the pool though, and we soon were at it… sweeping, bucketing and getting it ready. I phoned Brandon and KB. They were at an intersection just down the street. It was already close to ninety degrees and we sat in the shaded shallow end, taking it all in. Waiting.
KB and Brandon showed up and we got into it. A lady soon came up to the rear fence and asked what was going on. She seemed cool with us being there. She lived in one of the houses on the property… “The police have been watching this place because someone broke in. They come by sometimes… I’m just saying.” We would take our chances. Nothing new. We started skating and found the juice. The pool was fun. Lines were tapped into.
Shortly after, a pretty big dude stuck his head over the back fence. He was standing on the hood of a car parked out there. “You niggers are just having the time of your life, huh?” I — for one — am rarely called such a thing and the tone of his voice was far less than friendly, so I answered, “Yes…we are actually.” Shawn said something like, “Fun in the sun.” He climbed down off of the car and I saw that there were actually two guys outside the fence. His tone and hostility were unmistakable. We were unwelcome. We took a run or two each and I peered through fence, looking to see where they were. Shawn said quietly, “It doesn’t matter where they went…” I looked over at him. He pointed. “The man.” A police officer was walking up to the pool. He actually looked relieved to see us… I presumed that in such a neighborhood, he was accustomed to something a bit more violent and nefarious than a couple of old guys skating a pool. He escorted us out.
We pulled away and into the morning. Stopping by another pool, I knocked and received no answer. KB suggested a quick barge that he knew of. “In and out. Fifteen minutes and that’s all we get.” We nodded. Shortly after, we were looking into one of the weirdest pools I’d ever seen. It looked old. 1940’s era. The transitions looked like they were hand poured… sloping and strange. The waterfall was super steep. It had a wall running flush on one side, a metal ladder, sharp hip, no tiles… it was a mess and it was perfect. We took about three runs each, KB hit the deathbox and we were soon driving away.
Stopping for drinks and snacks, we talked and decided to hit an old favorite or two. It was super hot and we knew that the rest of the morning was only going to get worse. We wanted to skate as hard as we could before the afternoon heat sapped all of our energies. At the next pool, KB slammed and took one to the elbow. Brandon got some, Shawn bruised the side wall and I pulled a mute. Things were good. The sun was hot.
The afternoon was upon us. We talked in the shade by the pool. There were boards resting on top of the wall and it provided us with shelter. Grateful. We spoke of our years together riding pools. KB said that this was one of the first pools he ever skated. It was right after the fires in 2003. “I rode this pool and knew that pool skating was something I’d always do.” Brandon talked about going out pool skating and riding a half-dozen in a day. Collectively, we have spent many weekends together having fun. I think that is why our lives intersected. We love pool skating. We ended the day at an old reliable. Big, steep, slippery and fun. Blue Haven egg. Soda was purchased and sprayed onto the pool. We soon took everything we had left and put it all out there… and we always would.
Thanks to Brandon Wong for the images. Thanks to the core four… big fun. I’m going to miss you Shawn. I’ll see you when you visit and we will keep a few pools ready- Ozzie