I never went looking for skateboarding, but at 45 years old, it managed to find me anyway. My love of skateboarding began as a request from my 12-year-old daughter. One that I was determined to at least try to fulfill. I’m not entirely sure why I decided there was no other acceptable option other than to try skateboarding, but I know I was uncomfortable with giving her a list of bullshit reasons why I wouldn’t. Who cares if it is hard? Who cares if it is scary? Well, I did. But my daughter didn’t. None of that would have made sense or mattered to her. What would have mattered is if her mom was the kind of person who refused to try.
So quite reluctantly, nearly two summers ago, I purchased a modest skateboard by mail, and when it arrived, I set out to at least be able to stand on it. But primarily to embody the mom who wasn’t scared to try. And to be honest, there was a lot for me to be scared of. The first few months of learning to skateboard were awful. I had expected the physical aspect to be challenging, of course. These were small stabilizing muscles that had not gotten much use as of late. I was in the process of teaching my body how to move in an entirely new way. At middle age, no less. What I didn’t expect was the emotional impact. Skateboarding threw me under the emotional bus. Hard. I was forced to be in my body, something even despite being 45 years old, I had managed to avoid in any deep or meaningful way. Skateboarding forced me to surrender my vanity, uncertainty, and self-doubt completely. Covered in pads, wearing a helmet, and sweating like crazy, were just part of standing still on the board. And I’m embarrassed to say this self-consciousness not only took me by surprise but nearly crushed me. Once again, not something my daughter would accept as an excuse or a valid reason to stop, so I just kept going.
Bit by bit, skateboarding continued to find me. Through a new relationship with my daughter, my husband, my community, and my friends, this scrappy little piece of wood with wheels was in the process of changing my life, and I didn’t even see it coming. Skateboarding happened to me. The fears I had initially, the ones that were born far more profound than any doubt of my physicality, the really old emotional shit skateboarding unearthed, have all been unfounded and dissolved. Skateboarding, by nature, is all about failure. Everyone falls. Everyone fails—even the best of the best. I’ve learned that getting better doesn’t make you immune from failure. It means you fail more often. Also, concrete hurts—a lot. Just being out there is admirable. Trying and failing are sometimes as good as you can get.
Skateboarding is hard. It will be hard forever. It always leaves you on the precipice. And there is something remarkable about that.