What I Learned from Going to a Skatepark, without even knowing how to skate
strangers are friendly
I walked in with a board and my pads, not knowing how to use any and hoping I’d leave with a handle on at least some. A stranger came over and taught me how to put on my helmet (have to start with the basics), how to position myself on the board, how to skate, how to fall, and how to turn. He spent over an hour of his time teaching someone he did not know, which I doubt he was expecting to do with his night. Nonetheless, he did it with kindness, patience, and love. He said it was brave of me to show up at a place that looks so daunting, knowing no one and nothing. I really appreciated that because I hadn’t felt brave up until that point; I had just felt foolish. Perhaps that’s what bravery is: being willing to go after what you want and believe in even if you feel foolish in the process.
The manager of the park ended up becoming my mini tour guide, telling me all the histories and changes of the city of Houston. A free AirBnB Experience if you ask me. But I still had to lock up my backpack due to theft and not come back the next day in anticipation of post-election violence concerns. So not all strangers are your friends.
you have to fall to fly
It is not until I was ready to fall and fail in public that I could make progress on having control over the board. The most important thing is to learn to fall without harming yourself and having the courage to get back on and try it again and again until it clicks and sticks. One of my coworkers called out how I’ve had a board for years but I didn’t decide to show up at the skatepark until I was being forced to lean into learning from failure at work. In fact, he’s the one who asked to reflect on the experience and how the skating and my work life relate; how I chose an analogous outlet at night for the fears I waded through during the day and how that was no coincidence.
no one cares
I fell. Over. And over again.
No one pulled out a camera to live stream my falls and make fun of me to their friends.
No one made a meme out of my injuries.
No one pointed at me and called everyone to gather round and look at my failure.
Fear will have you believe that these are the type of things that happen if you fail and fall. However, I’ve fallen, repeatedly, and the most reaction I ever got out of someone was them grabbing my board as it rolled away to return it to me so that I can get right back on and fall again.
we all cope with our demons differently, and that is beautiful
A lot of people view skating as a home when they cannot find one elsewhere, a place to release the feelings they wouldn’t be able to express otherwise, and a gathering of people so committed to their own growth that they fall in front of everyone every day to get there.
Here I was after work, bundled up in padding from head to toe, skating next to young kids falling at their parents’ side, “cool” teens trying to catch the next trick, homeless people who call the skatepark home, professional adults reliving their glory days, and an endless array of other people with their own unique backstories all of whom decided to spend tonight rolling around on wheels under the street lights.
The skatepark is a very human environment-if you know what I mean-and I love how concrete friendships and families are formed at random hours wheeling over concrete.