A little inspiration gets me rollin’ again | PostIndependent.com
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A little inspiration gets me rollin’ again

Open Space
Derek Franz
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Thoughts of skateboarding have been sticking to my brain like grip tape ever since I met a Brazilian on a four-wheel-drive road in the remote Utah desert last week.

I was pooping into a bag (for the sake of the fragile environment) next to my car when I first met Leo’s group. (It was an innocent mistake, but they walked up at a bad time.) They were walking up to ask if they could share my campsite, but they wisely opted to hang back and wait.

It was a slightly awkward meeting ” none of us wanted to shake hands. Soon it didn’t matter, however, as I enjoyed the sunset under the orange pinnacles of the Bridger Jack rock formation with a new set of friends.



Leo was among this group of Denverites. I didn’t really meet him until the topic of skateboarding came up in the fireside discussion.

I was sitting, he was standing. He was maybe seven years older than me, but enthusiasm suddenly animated his quiet shadow and made him 15 again. I could see the whites of his eyes looking down on me with all the rest of the stars, sparkling through the silver, billowing smoke between us, as he described his favorite skateboard trick in english words unfamiliar to him.



A “sex change” is what it’s called here in the states. Some prefer to call it a kick-flip varial, but either way it also happens to be my favorite “flip trick.”

If I could do a fakie sex change at will, off or over any obstacle, I’d be stoked.

Leo put fire in me again.

Today, when I left for work, I felt my feet itching for the feel of my concave board as I put my shoes on. I miss the pop of the tail; wheels gliding over concrete, taking off (pop), landing (crack) … rollin’ again.

I still see my shadow, forever in flight over a six-stair gap by the courthouse, as I walk around town.

When I was at Glenwood High, my mom was convinced that “hanging out at the skate park” every day after school translated into “doing drugs.” Not! Sure, there were those groups of people around, but me and my buddies were too busy knocking our teeth loose on metal ramps.

You don’t know what it feels like to be alive until you blow it on a nose grind, rack your shin on the rail and slide across hot cement on your shirtless back. All to the laughter and applause of friends (or silence, if it’s bad).

I walk by a particular downtown lawn and remember the day Officer Tracey, the GSHS student resource officer, saved us from being handcuffed. An old man peeking from behind the curtains had seen us rolling in front of his house, and called the cops to report a menacing “skateboard gang.” (He didn’t even come out and talk to us first.) Two police cars showed up as we were getting into one of our cars parked nearby. Four cops sat us apart on the grass. They ran background checks, and searched us and the car. Tracey heard it on the scanner and drove by to vouch for us (it’s a good thing when school staff know you as a somewhat responsible student).

Sitting by the water at Two Rivers Park, I watch and listen to a kid practicing in the empty skate park. The same trick, every time ” he’s almost getting it. If only he can work it out in his head, and stick with it, he’ll land that backside 180 almost 100 percent of the time.

The moment when you realize you can do something you’ve never done before is an addicting one, worth working and bleeding for.

The older I get the more I find myself accepting my own mental barriers. I don’t test or question the boundaries quite like I used to. Why? Because I might get a bruise or two? Rubbish reasons.

Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die.” And he’s right.

A pulse is more fleeting than the paper money in your pocket ” might as well spend it doing what you love.

As for me, with this brand new spring air creeping into my days, I’m planning to pull that skateboard out from under the futon.

I’m thinking about a sex change.

Derek Franz is noticing that it’s easier to remember the person you are when you live in the place where you grew up. Derek can be reached at 384-9113 or dfranz@postindependent.com.


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