27 July 2010

In Search Of The Miraculous

Stills from In Search Of The Miraculous by Pontus Alv

Up until Saturday it had been about two months since I'd even stepped foot on my skateboard. I even took a brand new board back to Wales and Ireland but it never hit Celtic cconcrete. I came back to Portland and lent it against a wall in my basement. I had a block. It had got to the point that I was not sure I could ever hop back on a skateboard again. I told my acupuncturist about this. She seemed sympathetic but I knew she didn't quite get what it meant to me. I said, this was the longest break from skateboarding I have taken since I was about 12 years old, including broken bone down time. Even though I am an old man now and only skate once or twice a week at the best of times, it is still such a huge part of my identity. So much of my world view has been shaped by the four wheeled land plank, not to mention lasting friendships. For better or worse, it has dictated my an approach to life. Sounds silly, I know. Even though I have little desire to physically skate, I'm still walking down the street scoping out spots and planning lines. The other night I had a perfect dream run on a vert ramp. I was launching effortless lean to tails. It was so real and I woke up over the moon with a sense of achievement. But still my board stood, unridden deep in my dank basement.

Saturday night, the family were in the basment watching Harry Potter. I am few beers down, wondering what to do. It was a warm summer evening. I couldn't tolerate being inside any longer. so I went down stairs and grabbed my board, "I'm going out to bomb a hill or two" "Ok, Have fun." Leaving the front door I see my neighbours. I walked back in. I didn't want them to see me with my skateboard... but why? Once they went back in, I hit the streets. I walked up the hill I usually bomb the cobwebs away with. At the top, I lent into a few pushes and down I went, wind in the face, arms aloft like a total goon, just feeling the night, the inhibitions slowly melting away with the warm breeze.

At the bottom, I turned to go home again but there were numerous people in the streets, on porches, patios and gardens, drinking, grilling, dancing. It was a festive evening and I didn't want to go home to watch Dane Reynolds surfing on the internet. So I made my way to the next hill. Nearing the bottom, I dug into some turns to control my speed before the intersection, "Hey Tony Hawk" a cyclist shouted. Ahhh the familiar abuse... I've been hearing it for twenty-five years. "Hey Lance Armstrong" or "No its Mike Hawk to you," I wished I'd retorted. Jamming down the street, I made my way to the new DIY hot spot, a cemented road barrier, and skated it in the dark for a short time. I got a couple of rock and rolls on the barrier, my only 'tricks' that evening and then made my way home, which was a long, sweaty uphill push.

I'd cleared my block, the blood was pumping that night but the fire is still not lit. It is very peculiar. Is it a result from cracking my head open in the Spring? Is it the calicification and scar tissue that make every impact to my left elbow angonizing? Is it middle-age? Am I now well-adjusted enough to no longer need skateboarding? In a sense it is almost liberating to not be a skateboarder anymore but I do miss that interaction with the streets, the particular mode of attack on life that is skateboarding, the camaraderie, the therapy, the pain and the promise.

The reason I write this, is because the last time I was in a skateboarding funk, I sat down and watched Pontus Alv's "The Strongest of The Strange" and I literally couldn't contain myself. I think I would have exploded had I not grabbed my skateboard the very moment it ended. Pontus has just released "In Search of The Miraculous," his latest film. These films aren't mere 'skate vids' that showcase tricks and stunts. They are documentation of what it means to grow up with a skateboard under your feet, while you struggle with coming of age, while your loved ones get ill and die, you struggle to get a job, face real life, and how you develop a unique relationship with your surroundings and terrain throughout it all. 

Pontus, my ten euros are on the way to Sweden. We'll see how quickly my 55mms wear down afterwards.