A pensive Sunday afternoon
(Took this photo on a forest amble a couple days back.)
I’m taking a break from watching Dogtown & the Z-Boys, the skateboarding documentary about the crew that busted the underground sport wide open, homogenizing surfing and boarding into one beautiful, fluid craft. Narrated by Sean Penn, the span of the flick is a pretty all-encompassing ride, and I’m digging it.
I have a few personal goals I want to achieve, regarding fitness and weightloss and all, and when I do, surfing’s something I aim to finally learn -- there’s nowhere near here to do it, so it’s not something I’ve been standing on the sidelines watching -- and once I do that, a tattoo’ll find its way on me, too. I figure next spring’s when I’ll be getting onto that task. It’s part of some goals I’ve set.
I love the culture that gave birth to surfing and boarding as we know it now. The disregard for conformity, the hedonistic living-in-the-now approach to life. Sadly, it’s not feasible for most of us, but I’ve gradually reached this point where I’m sick of believing that to be true for myself.
In three weeks, I’m 32. I don’t think the fact that I’m “aging” matters to me. I’m probably entitled to be angry at having much of my 20s stolen by grief and frustrations, but I’m just not angry. Not anymore. All it does is prevent me from being interested in older men. That’s the only residual effect.
But this movie’s an interesting flick for me to be watching on this particular weekend. On Friday, I finished my class that I’d been taking for the last month, that has inspired me to finally pursue desires I’ve had for the last 15 years, and now, for the first time in my life, I’m bonafide unemployed.
I’ve never been without a job waiting for me. I’ve never had a clean slate before me. I’ve always had a transitional element in place before I’ve left any school or work situation.
The reasoning for it is that I’d been raised to have a cover-your-ass mentality in life: charity begins at home, don’t tell family secrets, don’t take risks, don’t rock the boat, do what you gotta do to keep yourself protected, never trust anyone, have a fallback plan, and never, ever expose yourself untiul absolutely necessary.
I lived my life following those credos most of the time, until recently. The best times I’ve ever had were always when I said, “Fuck that shit,” and went my own way. It took me to the Yukon and was responsible for some of the coolest roadtrips I’ve ever had.
I’ve been a paradox that way. On the one hand, I’ve absolutely been a live-in-the-now person, but on the other hand, my roots in fear had prevented me from really taking no prisoners and toeing the edge as far as what I really wanted to be doing.
Every now and then, a movie like this would remind me of that little person inside of me who screamed that they wanted to become bigger than life.
And for the first time, I’ve got no safety net. I’ve got no rules keeping me bound. I’ve got no employer pressing me under their thumb. I’ve got nothing but a dream of what I want to be doing.
So I’m verging on 32, what’s the big deal? Who gives a shit? They keep saying that 40’s the new 30, and man, my 30s are cooler than I’d ever thought they’d be when I was younger. I remember watching the flick Singles when I was 21 and hearing Bridget Fonda’s character ramble on about how she figured she had until 26 to do whatever she wanted to do, and then it was all downhill. And 10 years ago, that was true.
Something has changed. There’s a new culture out there that says we have whatever time we want, whatever we need, and if you live your life right, “old” ain’t until you hit 50, at the least.
The difference for me now is that I’ve overcome some harsh shit. Been there, done that, and whatever the fuck you wanna throw my way now, man, I got that beat. That’s what the 30s are. In an ideal world, by the time you reach your 30s, you’ve tested your endurance.
This past week was a week I’d been waiting for all year long. Two years in a row, I had potentially-fatal vehicular accidents in the last week before Labour Day. I believe in things happening in threes, because they’ve always done so for me. I was terrified all summer long and kept thinking about it, couldn’t shake it, and honestly believed an accident was lying in wait for me this week.
What’d everyone tell me to do? “Park the scooter.” “Don’t ride.” “Take the bus.”
And all I could think was, “Fuck, man. I should... but will I respect myself if I dodge it the easy way and don’t face that fear?” I knew the answer. I knew it was no. And for that reason, I was terrified my stubborness would send me sprawling once again.
So, last Saturday, as “the week” began, I decided to tackle it another way. I did the one thing I always swore I wouldn’t do on a bike, and I plugged my iPOD in and turned on some punk and rock songs, and went long, long ride past midnight around the city of Vancouver. I hung at the beach, rode through the university, down near the Ports of Vancouver, up through the gritty East Side, and I got home after 2am.
For some reason, it all seemed all right after that. Fuck “fate,” I thought, and decided to ride my scooter all week, as I saw fit.
Friday, on the second anniversary of a car accident I had no business walking away from, I wandered to a coffee shop for an Americano, stepped outside afterwards, and saw a chick on a scooter get hit by a car.
She toppled to the ground and laid there, unable to move, as a crowd of concerned and terrified onlookers formed a circle around her to protect her from the traffic.
I stood there in horror, wondering what this meant in the grand scheme of things for me. An ominous warning? And something clicked and it all became a surreal moment of introspection as I stared down at her: This chick on the ground looked like I did two years ago, when I was nearly 60 lbs heavier than I am now, when my self-esteem was at an all-time low. For some reason, something about her on the ground was a closure to all the things gone bad in my life. Who I was that day two years ago was a result of all the tragedy that’d come my way in the five years preceding that, when I stupidly internalized all my negativity.
Since then, I’ve changed in ways I’d never imagined, rediscovered who I was 10 years ago, when I set out for the North.
Now, here I am, all that closure finally granted to me, and with my slate cleaner than it’s ever been in my life. The suspense -- Where will it all go? -- has me grinning with curiosity. I’m so glad I’m single, jobless, and completely free to do what I like.
I’ve given myself this weekend off, to be a slacker loser, hence the boarding flick and other DVDs, and tomorrow... tomorrow it all starts anew.
I can’t hardly wait.
Theme songs for my life in the now: “Can’t Hardly Wait,” by the Replacements, “Free,” by VAST, and “I’ll Get By,” by Swag. Bring it, brother.