Another Grain of Sand

I finally retired it. One last grain of sand from the hourglass still in my sock, leftover from my days as a teen grinding curbs in Claremont. This wasn’t my first board. No, that came years before. A small, red plastic board my mom probably bought at Gemco. Or Sears.  A few years later came the Powell Peralta boards I either got as gifts or traded. The Tommy Guerrero model that was stolen at the Montclair Mall movie theater.  My brother’s, too.  The Tony Hawk board that a young, pre-GOAT Tony signed for me after I handed it over the fence at the Pipeline in Upland. We were both kids. That board got traded. For a brand-new Hosoi, I think. I still regret it.

I was doing a lot of trading back then. I had boxes of parts. Rolls of deck tape. Independent trucks.  Rat Bones wheels.  I had everything. I was buying, selling, trading. Eventually, all of it went. All but one.

Chris Miller was always the one I looked up to most. If memory serves, he was in the same class as my brother at Claremont High.  I never met him, but still, he was the one I looked up to most. There is a picture out there of Chris, flying, his knee all bloody, one can only assume from some gnarly fall. But Chris is there, in flight, injury be damned. It’s the perfect icon of skate culture in the 80s. We didn’t care what we looked like. We just wanted to skate. Chris was the epitome of that. And yet, he was arguably the most stylish of them all. His lines on a run were fluid. They seemed effortless. Each time his board popped off the coping he went higher. And higher. And higher.

I don’t even remember what I traded for this board. Maybe that badass Steadham Spade I’d gotten used.  Maybe the Neil Blender.  The coffee guy design; the one with the cracked tail.  The Miller was used, too, but I had to have it.  And I remember thinking, this was the one I’m not going to trade. I’m just going to ride.

The board got put in the closet at some point once I was in high school. I became too cool for skating, I guess. When I graduated and moved north, I took it with me. Skated down the street one day and saw a help wanted sign in the window of a coffee shop. I desperately needed a job, so I popped the tail of the board, grabbed the nose and walked in and asked for an application. Skateboard in hand.

It got put back into the closet at some point again. Then out to the garage after I moved back south.  Up into the rafters with the last of the parts I’d collected over the years.  One last box.  Half a dozen sets of wheels.  A few sets of trucks.  A large bag of sex-bolts.  Probably some rails, too.  And that board.  The one with the lizard on it.

I was in my thirties before I dragged it out again.  I’m not even sure why.  Nostalgia, maybe.  I wasn’t about to try dropping into the pool at the nearby skate park.  I was never that good when I tried that the first time.  I still have the cast to prove it.  No, I just wanted to glide down the street, pump my foot onto the pavement to gain speed.  Feel the wind on my face.  Lean into a carve and cut back the other way.  Like I was on a wave.

I’d been taking it out every once a while for a few years.  Skate down the street and back.  I keep meaning to take it with us when we camp, but never remember.  It was collecting dust up on the shelf.  Back in the garage.  Like before.

One day I just found myself heading to the hardware store.  I’d pulled one of the bolts out that held the trucks and took it with me.  I found a screw twice its length and bought two.  Brought them home, removed a second bolt from the board and affixed the whole damn thing to a corner wall in my den.  It was time.  Time to remember.  To not forget.  To protect that moment in time before that last grain of sand slipped through and got lost with all of the others.

2 thoughts on “Another Grain of Sand”

  1. Good ol’ Gemco! Love it when you get nostalgic—it’s always a fun read that brings back memories of my own youth. Thanks for taking us on another great ride, Greg!

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