Friday, March 25, 2005

Sunshine On Wheels

Sunshine On Wheels

I recommend picking up old habits. Cleaning out my cupboard I rediscovered a pair of rollerblades that I hadn’t worn in almost two years. I recall the day I bought them! My friend had gotten herself a skateboard and I bought myself the pair of blades so I could join her with wheels on the pier. On that hot summer, we skated well into the night, under the stars. Tourists would move out the way to let us through and we’d race to see who went fastest. I recall teaching myself to skate backwards whilst my friend tried learning some tricks on the skateboard. Some young guys, who obviously knew more about the subject than we did, took pity on our feeble attempts and even tried teaching us how to ride up and down the skateboard ramp. Needless to say… we never did reach professional level.

The ramp is gone now; they tore it down to build up a hot air balloon space in order to attract more tourists. My friend no longer skates, she had to give it up when she fell pregnant unexpectedly and with no partner to skate with me, my blade’s found themselves a place in my cupboard. Nobody that I know skates, in fact, I can’t think of anyone who’s even willing to try… excepting my baby brother! He still had a pair of roller skates that my father had bought for him before he left South Africa and as far as I knew… they still fit him!

I got odd stares when climbing on the bus, the old ladies commented on how I’d probably break my neck and the guys behind me whispered between them. I could hear them ask each other if they knew who I was, which school I was from and if the blades were really mine. I smiled. It pleased me to think that on weekends, in my jeans and t-shirt, I still managed to pass off for a high school kid. Before getting off the bus, I couldn’t resist turning around, telling them my name and informing them that I finished school four years ago… oh and yes, the blades were definitely mine. They smiled and told me that I should enjoy myself. One of them suggested I wear a helmet but I told him that I liked living my life on the edge. It was their laughter that gave me the courage to step onto the pier on my own, well aware that many curious pairs of eyes were upon me.

Sitting on a bench, I took off my shoes and proceeded with tightly tying the blades to my feet. The tighter they are the better control and confidence you have as you know they won’t fall off your feet easily. My little brother arrived shortly after I tied my right lace; he sat down next to with a million dollar smile and thanked me for having thought up the idea of a morning skating on the pier. I was glad to have him next to me, it’s not that I couldn’t skate on my own but the fact that skating alone means you have no one to share the experience with. Where’s the point in that?

At first, it felt like my legs didn’t belong to me. They wobbled a bit until I got used to the wheels under my feet. Moving my feet from side to side, I began to move forward and before I knew it, I was zooming past tourists with my little brother not too far behind. The people that were staring faded away as my brother and I jumped over cracks on the floor and skated backwards. Skating is like riding a bike, once you’ve learnt, you never forget. At one point, a flash of a camera caught my attention and I realized that at some point my brother and I had become a tourist attraction. People smiled and some cheered us on and my brother and I bowed for our audience of five elderly tourists who were amused with our fun.

When we were tired of speeding and tricks, we decided to take a long ride to the end of the promenade and back. It took us an hour to reach the end and come back. In the beginning my little brother updated me on his adventures but on the way back we skated silently, merely enjoying the feeling of the turning wheels under our feet.

As I rode, my mind wandered. I looked out onto the ocean and saw sailing boats. They reminded me of a young sailor and his family that had sailed into our harbour two years ago. He had been the best thing that had happened to me and my friend that summer. In a mere week, we’d had the time of our lives. He taught me the meaning of skurfing and I taught him the words to “You can leave your hat on”. I haven’t heard from him in a while, he had been sixteen and charming at the time. I wished that I could see him now, how he is, how he thinks and wondered if he still sings to himself “Why can’t we be friends?”. There are no more words to that song… you just keep repeating it over and over until someone gets annoyed: “Why can’t we be friends”.
I’ve learnt that people come and go and that we must accept that some people we’ll never see again. I accept and understand that concept and I’m thankful for the time he spent with me and for the wonderful memories he left behind but I couldn’t help wishing as I skated to be given the opportunity to see him… even if it were from a distance, just to make sure things turned out okay.

Feeling the warm sun on my face and the breeze in my hair, I could’ve sworn that I died and gone to heaven… until seconds later when I found myself on my ass, spread out on the floor.
“Ouch that must’ve hurt!”
As always, just as you get too comfortable or confident in life… it makes sure that you fall on your ass! I had been so concentrated on blue skies and the sound of the waves crashing that I hadn’t noticed the water on the floor and slipped as I’d skated over it.
A handsome guy dressed in blue jeans and a black Adidas shirt helped me back on my feet. I tried to hide my embarrassment by telling him that it had been my first fall of the day. Laughing at me he pointed out that my pants were all wet and I before I finished wondering where the water came from, a big wave crashed on the rocks and poured onto the promenade, splashing the both of us.
“So that’s where it came from!” we both laughed as we shook the droplets off our shirts. I forgot completely about my brother and wondered why on earth it had taken me so long to come out skating. But before I could think of anything else to say to the stranger, a very jealous girlfriend that held two ice creams on cones whisked him away.

Laughing, I reminded myself that when things felt too good to be true, than it’s probably because they were! My little brother appeared from nowhere irritated that I had fallen behind and strongly advised me to get more practice. I laughed and told him that I couldn’t agree more!

My morning ended with a scratched knee, bruised buttocks and wind styled hair. However along with the ice cream as rewards, my brother and I took home the most exhausted but happy, million euro smiles!

I recommend doing something you haven’t done in a long time. I recommend behaving like a child. I recommend playing. I recommend joking and laughing. I recommend adventuring. I recommend losing yourself in the day and in time and, I recommend skating side by side someone you care about.

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