I can quite vividly remember standing at the top of the hill. I was wearing a red t-shirt from Old Navy and some beige cargo shorts, with one foot atop a World Industries skateboard.
Admittedly, even then, I didn’t really know how to skate. I was the kid that knew how to ollie — but only on the grass, where the board can’t easily slip out from underneath your feet. That was my only “trick.”
The friend I was skating with, however, knew what was up. Anything I could do he could do better, and anything I couldn’t do he probably could. Hence why we were standing atop the hill outside his house, pining to ride down it in the first place.
I mean, anybody who’s known me for any length of time can probably agree that balance isn’t one of my strong suits. I happen to be a fine walker, and can even run on a treadmill (huzzah!). But ask me to dance, walk after having a couple beers, or stand on a skateboard and, sorry, nope, not happening.
True then, true now.
So what I’m getting at is that this hill was a bad idea. I knew, before I even went for it, that I would end up lying on the gravel with steaming bloody forearms, and hating the fact that I had to walk back up.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Five minutes later, after finding the courage to put both feet on the board (and both hands over my eyes), I was wishing I had had the foresight to aim for the grass. Instead, there were two huge gashes running from my wrists to my elbows, and a grin from ear to ear.
If you had asked me then why I was smiling, I probably would have told you that “going down the hill was fun.” If you ask me now why I was smiling, I know its because that, for 10 year old Nate, scars meant I had absolute proof that when kids at school asked me if I was “a skater” (or, to use the more appropriate 90’s terminology: “a sk8er”), I wouldn’t need to tell them I was, I could show them.
My scars were proof that I had actually done something — or at least that I had tried.