Thank You Skateboarding

thank you skateboarding graphic by sunde white



I started skating when I was about fifteen in the nineties. I fell in love with it right away.  I loved the freedom, how loud it was, how all consuming fun it was.  I loved that every curb, ledge or ramp became a creative obstacle to invent tricks on.  I loved how it was kind of underground and punk rock. I loved that a skateboard was a handheld get away vehicle that doubled as a weapon if you ever needed to defend yourself at night.

I loved mind skating and inventing tricks in my head as I sat bored, in school or work.

I loved the high of learning a new trick and replaying the accomplishment in my head all day.

I loved that when I used to get panic attacks in my teens and twenties the only thing that cleared the rushing out of my ears was skating fast.

I loved the mental part of it.  Getting to a new spot and coming up with new tricks to try up, on and over ledges, curbs, milk crates or anything else we could find, never stopped thrilling me.  I loved overriding the fear in my brain and accomplishing a trick that seemed terrifyingly impossible a few days earlier.

I loved that on breaks from work I could just go out for a twenty minute skate on a curb outside and just have the best time before returning to the misery of cold calling the Midwest to do surveys about pizza chains and tourism.

I loved the welcome that other skateboarders gave me.  Even in the nineties when there weren’t as many girls skateboarding I never once had a guy be unwelcoming, rude, unsupportive or misogynistic.  NOT ONCE.  Every skater I ever encountered was cool as hell and psyched for me.  I don’t know why skateboarding was this way—and still is—but I’m eternally grateful.  Even nowadays, as an older lady, it’s this way.   I used to get stressed when some young guys were in the skate park…but nothing has changed, they either just don’t care at all or are totally nice.  If you’ve got a board then everyone’s cool with you, that’s that.

Side story: Something charming that skateboarders do a lot when they first meet up is ask each other, “What are you working on today?”  I love this.  I don’t know why, it’s just so pure to care enough to ask what someone is working on and then to keep an eye out to cheer them on and then celebrate when they land it.

Anyway, the other day, there was just me and a little boy about 5 years old, in the park.  His mom was in the slide area a couple feet away.  We were both standing together on the take off ramp that gives you speed into the bowl and he looks up at me and goes, “So what are you working on?” I told him and I asked what he was working on.  He told me the 3 or 4 things he was working on and for the next hour or so that little kid and I hyped the heck out of each other till his mom told him it was time to go.

I love that skateboarding embraces every type of person.  When you skate you’ll meet people of every race, culture, gender, body type, age and it’s cool.  Everyone’s accepted in skateboarding.  I used to think maybe it was because I was a city skater but I still see every type of person at the skate park by the ocean so it turns out skateboarding is just inclusive like that.

After skateboarding all day and every day for about 15 years, I quit.  My feet hurt.  Years of ankle sprains and standing on my feet working in kitchens and bars were starting to catch up to me. My feet were tight, my ankles would lock and seemed like they just kept getting weaker and weaker.  Plantar Fascitis became my obsession, my nemesis.  Turf toe was my constant companion. So I quit.  I just felt like, should I cripple myself so that when I’m fifty I won’t be able to walk???  I turned my full attention to the little bit gentler sport of surfing and left skateboarding to the kids.

Fast forward 15 years.   I kept seeing older people skateboarding and totally ripping and I thought, why not me?  With all the skate parks around now, maybe I could get away with never pushing and save my feet.  I dipped my toe back in and fell in love all over again.  Yes, I did immediately injure my knee, but I’m glad that happened because it made me aware that I’d have to start training and working on strength and flexibility to keep my body safe from injuries.

So it took another year or so to get my knee right and now I’m skating pretty much every day and I couldn’t be more psyched about it.

Thank you skateboarding!