Living within proximity to a major city provides opportunities for all kinds of cool activities, such as skating this concrete skatepark in South Park. If only I were thirty years younger, full of gusto and limber joints, I would have loved spending time in a public area such as this.

My teenage years of skateboarding were spent in shopping mall parking lots, after hours, and under the cover of darkness. I remember with fondness, staying out past midnight with a group of friends, dodging patrol cars, and doing much of nothing on a Friday night—beyond cruising the local sidewalks, gossiping, talking about dream girls that we’d all like to date, or dreaming about fantasy hardware (decks, trucks, bearings, wheels as slick as can be) that we’d love to purchase.

I was skating with friends in my neighborhood, and then eventually I was invited to go to the skate park with one of them. When I saw people flying all around – literally flying in and out of bowls – that is when I knew I wanted to do it. I wanted to figure out how I could get there and how I could fly ~ Tony Hawk

Ollies, kickflips, grinds—the words of my youth seem so foreign to me now. Skating was more than a method of transportation, but an expressive artform, fused with a distinctive lifestyle and attitude of “yeah, I just don’t care what you think about me.” Those days seem so distant, yet simultaneously recent—that was a truly magical time in my life, before all the things of life got in the way, fighting for prominence. That was before I knew what I wanted to do with myself, and all concepts of responsibility or plans for the future were unknown concerns of mine.

As I walk around the concrete complex today, the undulating concrete takes on a sensual appearance. I won’t use the word erotic or sexy because you would surely label me as “that boy is…well, he’s too far gone to save”, but I am captivated by the play of light and shadow. While the area is void of skateboarders, two cyclists are riding in the bowl, and grinding on rails beyond. Earbuds buried in their skulls. I think to myself: whatcha listening to? If it were me, I’d opt for some Offspring today. Seems like a clear choice, for sure.

You gotta keep ’em separated / Like the latest fashion / Like a spreading disease / The kids are strappin’ on their way to the classroom / Getting weapons with the greatest of ease / The gangs stake their own campus locale / And if they catch you slippin’ then it’s all over pal / If one guys colors and the others don’t mix / They’re gonna bash it up ~ Come Out and Play by The Offspring

Man, this kid wasn’t even born in that decade. As I walk closer to the rider, who is stationed at the top of the bowl, he motions to me. I start talking, but he stops me so that he can remove his earbuds. “Are you taking some pictures?”, he inquires. My reply is brief, but cordial: “yep, just enjoying the sunshine today too”, before he punctuates the conversation with “I’m just getting a quick session in before work.” We go our separate ways, divided by the bass and treble of some unknown playlist.

Hey, come out and play. You gotta keep ’em separated.