I was free. The crisp, fresh air of Normandy nipped at my face and rushed along my thick down coat as I sped along the boardwalk of Le Havre. Locals tried not to stare as they saw such a big boy show such mastery of a skateboard so small, but I’d gotten used to the fame by now. It didn’t phase me anymore. Last time I’d been this far, I fell down by the hair salon I now visit twice a month to keep my hair just long enough to cover my eyes without blinding me completely. Now, I raced down that street without blinking once, confident as I rode over the very spot I fell on months ago. I was a tank moving over the rubble of my failure, crushing every piece of disappointment as I found my way back to my dignity. I gained more and more speed, my heart racing at the thought of falling with nothing but my $100 Canada Goose toque to protect my fragile head. Suddenly, I was whizzing past La Petit Rade. I’d never been this far before. I slowed down as kids skated by me on the new multicolored Pennyboards they had gotten for Christmas. That’s when I realized I wasn’t the only skater in this part of town. A boy of about 12 years of age raced by me, looking back to grin at the man twice his height lagging behind him. A deep sense of shame began to churn inside of me, but I wasn’t going to let it get me down. Not this January 4th. I continued along at my own pace, not faster than a jog, when, suddenly, it happened.
My back wheels got stuck in a crack but instead of the board stopping and throwing me to the ground again, it sacrificed itself and split in two!
It was a truly noble act which I may never be able to repay. Heartbroken, I picked up the two pieces of my board and set them next to me on the ledge looking out to sea as the sun set behind us. An elderly couple walked by and asked “mais qu’est que s’est passé” to which I replied “C’est triste, mais ça va”. But it wasn’t ça va. I grabbed my two pieces of plastic polymer and walked down the path that I had just gleefully skated down minutes before. People stared at me once again, but this time not in awe. As they watched the funeral procession of one, they looked at me with sorrowful eyes. Maybe they too were once skater bros like me and had lost their board to the fury of the natural world. Or maybe they saw the broken heart of the skater boy who lost his very identity in the simple snap of Chinese manufactured plastic. Either way, they wouldn’t understand. But when I got back home, I put the pieces of board on my table and smiled. Maybe the journey with my red-wheeled board was over, but my own journey as a skater boy wasn’t. So I sat down, got out my laptop, and ordered my first pair of checkered Vans. As soon as I confirmed my order, I felt the rush of rolling over concrete come back to me and I knew my life had found its path again. Once a skater boy, always a skater boy.
Leon is an enigma.