This should be the scene of a perfect, cozy afternoon in autumn. Here I am sitting in the dining room of this cute townhouse, sipping at black coffee from a tiny yellow cup that is on a tiny yellow saucer, listening to the soundtrack from Amelie, and nibbling away at a piece of 90% dark chocolate- yes, I have a penchant for bitter foods, and paradoxically, I have a sweet tooth too. Outside are the last remnants of this summer’s monsoon: precipitation coming down in torrents and a lightning show dazzling the sky. I would normally be enthralled for such a tempest, but today, this is the cause of my vexation because the weather ruined my plans to go longboarding.
Longboarding is the greatest thing ever. If you have never skated before, go. Grab a board, any kind of board, hop on and just get going. Cruising along the road or bombing down a hill is simply sensational. It’s a feeling of escape - freedom from school, work, social drama, all the chaos of everyday life. It’s liberating to focus time and energy into this sport. Honestly, I could spend hours just riding around town or practicing a trick. There’s always so much to learn and after much hard work, it’s absolutely thrilling to perfect something as elementary as a cross step.
I only started skating four months ago. Well, actually, I first learned to ride a skateboard when I was ten, but I never aspired to really learn anything until recently. Skating never ceased to astonish me. I loved watching people defy gravity as they performed crazy tricks with names that elude me on the formidable half-pipe; but it always seemed like a sport dominated by boys. As a ten-year old, I was scared as hell that people would catch me skating. I skated to my friend’s house after school and I didn’t mind being seen skating with her. However, if I was skating alone on my street and a car happened to drive by, I would quickly hop off my board, embarrassed to be caught practicing this “boys’ sport”. At school, I never breathed a word about this hobby to anyone. It wasn’t cool. Girls were supposed to be into clothes, makeup, kittens and *NSYNC. I loved that stuff, but I loved skating too. I just didn’t tell anyone about that last part.
It wasn’t until high school that I attempted to quit caring what people thought about girls and skating. (I proudly wore a pair of scars on my knees to my senior homecoming dance.) Yet, even now, as a college student, I am still sometimes horribly conscious of the fact that I skate and people still look at me oddly because it’s just unexpected. Guys cruise around campus all the time, but rarely is there ever a girl. Slowly but surely, girls are getting into this sport, because it’s Fantastic. It’s challenging and super scary sometimes. In fact, I have designated these past few months as my Summer of Scars, especially after one particular incident: I was over-zealous bombing down a hill and wound up with road rash that has left a nasty permanent mark on my elbow. I love and hate it at the same time. My best friend named it Reginald. Yes, it’s so intense it has its own name and life story. And yes, Reginald is one amongst many scars.
Since my accident, I haven’t quite conjured up the confidence to tackle that hill. It may seem absolutely stupid to even contemplate doing it again, but the fact is, you just gotta. Skating is all about facing your fears of falling. It’s part of what makes it such a liberating sport. Being shaken up by an accident isn’t fun of course. I felt incredibly stupid after my fall and I wondered if maybe it was too rough for girls. However, after watching videos from the Longboard Girls Crew, I was inspired to continue skating. Some guys might laugh at my initial awkwardness at skating, or outrightly disapprove because the sport so dangerous, or think it’s cute for a girl to try this boyish hobby but secretly think it’s a folly… but to hell with all that. I will skate as much as I want and fall as much as I want, thank you very much (provided that the weather is decent, I suppose.) Recently, I joined our campus skate club, AZ Push, and met some wonderful guys and gals who eagerly teach me new tricks as well as safety and care measures. Skating with a group of experienced people has helped me improve much faster than I did alone over the Summer.
So, for those who want to try out this marvellous sport, hop to it. And if you fall on your face on your first go, come back and watch these videos to pump some confidence juice in ya. Cheers!
You can read more from Aishan Shi on her blog.
feature image via Longboard Girls Crew.