Timbre #51: This Time

What’s wrong with me?

I mean, this time?

The answers are here. I know them all, and most of them I know to be true. I’ve recited them to myself and others so many times that we all agree—but seldom out loud—that I’m on the right track. At least that’s what we hope.

Another day above ground. AVE finds time to stop and smell the wallies. Photo: Ben Colen

So from outside all that, another day of skateboarding or another day of not skateboarding presents itself.

And it’s stupidly universal but somehow comforting that we don’t even need to speak—you see another skateboarder somewhere out there floating around in the vacuum of the Milky Way, and you’re friends. You share the soft drink. You bum the smoke. You trade the inside joke.

Mostly understood, skateboarding is the thing we divide up between ourselves and at times it seems there’s not much else. But that’s actually more than most friends have—a kinetic link, a subdermal bond, a telepathic rhetoric.

John Cardiel exchanges his thoughts on the intersection of crailtaps, parking-curb coping, and time travel. Photo: Tobin Yelland

So maybe it’s good that when you are ready to step to the world of articulation, there’s another individual standing ready to exchange deep thoughts on wheel size (51s for mannys and ledges, 52s for triple-sets), sponsorship garbage (Cody was getting shoes from the Converse rep but he wants to wear Vans), and where you put your back foot on tre flips.

No … not maybe. It is good.

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Navs takes a flyer for canyon awareness. Photo: Ray Zimmerman

Zillions of other people share absolutely nothing. Or less than zero. We’re lucky to have even one thing. But besides skateboarding, what else? Because it just sounds dumb that you might be friends with someone because you’re both goofy footed or something. I mean, how do you know if they’re your friends or just dried-up contacts … associates who you happen skate with?

Well, you don’t know. That is to say, knowing that probably misses the point.

It’s a hard day, a hard week, month, year, decade to go through alone, in your own empty head conversing with the other parts of your personality. That’s true whether you’re skateboarding or not. But sometimes seeing someone else—just another random normal—isn’t enough to baffle the vacant rattling in your cranium. They’re probably nice enough folks, and sure, they’re doing things that you do too—sipping beverages, squinting through sunglasses, finding parking—but they’re not nearly as comforting to you as the stranger pushing down the street.

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Julien Stranger‘s crater hop is a bloody comfort, dog. Photo: Ben Colen

“That person,” you somehow understand, “probably knows what’s wrong with me.”

I mean this time and last time.

And you don’t want to know his political affiliation, you don’t need to know his stance on capital punishment, you can’t bother yourself with anything more than one fact—with all of the world’s same-old differences and replicated variations, you just might be in the presence of another person who, like you, has few other options but to try and answer his own questions by riding his skateboard around.

Nick Garcia hangs a back Smith in the rafters. Photo: Giovanni Reda

Forgive me if I don’t fall over myself to say thanks … or say anything for that matter.

I’m struggling a little bit over here.

But it is nice to know there’s another somebody nearby who’s fraught with the same benign peril—getting their head around some of that agreeably useless info and righting a little bit of what’s wrong.


  • Ted Schmitz says:

    This is definitely some of the best writing on skating and that little something that could easily be nothing that somehow makes us not strangers for a second. Not to get to high up your buns, but I have a feeling that most skate related writing is pretty low-cal and talking about loneliness without irony doesn’t usually make the cut. So thank you for giving my brain or heart or gut some quality calories.

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