Saturday, April 04, 2009

Falling Down; Getting Up

Colm has been itching to try out his "new" skateboard. Ariel, the daughter of our good friends Tan and Jer in Portland gave him her skateboard during our last visit there a little over a week ago. Unfortunately, it has snowed here in La Grande almost every day since the end of spring break. Colm has been trying things inside the house, and last night he extracted a promise from us that we'd take him to the skate park. Before we went, I let him see a couple of Youtube clips, one that showed some basic stuff and another that had some tips from a mop haired kid on how to fall correctly. Oh yeah, I let him see another clip called "Worst Fall Ever" or something like that. Colm seemed unfazed, not me though.

Anyway, we got to the park and Colm immediately saw the skaters there not wearing any gear. He asked me what he had to wear. Beth had gone out and bought him full body armor. I told Colm the only thing he had to wear was his bicycle helmet. He seemed a bit anxious about that. I asked him what was up. He said, "I don't want them to see my unicorn helmet." I told not to worry and made him put it on. I asked about the elbow pads but Colm declined. I didn't push it.

There was a contingent of skaters and bmx'ers crisscrossing the park, catching air, cool and focused at the same time, not much talk but friendly all the same. A couple of kids stood out immediately. They flew by on the ground, they launched into the air, they seemed connected by an invisible elastic band to their boards. Colm took it all in without a word. I signaled to him to climb down into the bottom of the park where there was a short pyramid that looked relatively easy to practice on. My intention had been to join him and to try and document his maiden effort, but it took me a few moments to get Tess and Sam situated and when I looked up, there was Colm perched on the edge of the ramp, one foot on his board, the other ready to mount and begin his descent, just like he had seen on the video clip. Before I could say anything, he was off. I was stunned by the complete absence of any hesitation on his part. He started down and for a split second, I thought he was going to pull it off but then his weight went back, the board shot forward, and Colm was on his butt. I watched him from the perimeter of the park. Colm took a brief moment on the ground, seemed to gather himself, then he got up and grabbed his board. He didn't go back up on the pyramid, not right away; instead he skated over to the base of a quarter pipe, slid up the slope part way and slid back. It was his way of getting back in the saddle. I did manage to get some footage of him during this early stage of his first time at the park.

Around this time we say the really good skater take a really nasty fall. He had just swept down a steep ramp and was at full speed when his wheels hit a small rock. His board stopped, and he went flying. He hit hard on his side. I could tell right away two things: one, it hurt a lot; two, this kid was tough. He laid there for a few seonds, then got up. He couldn't move one arm but with the other he grabbed his board and limped up the ramp where he flung his board into the shrubs. I heard him say, "I hate rocks." He kept limping to the far corner of the park where he sat down alone and tried flexing his elbow. He stayed over there for about ten minutes. I went over to him and asked him if he'd broken anything. He waved me off, "It's alright," he said between clenched teeth. Colm looked over at him reverentially.
He got better, and so did Colm.

By the time it was time to leave, Colm was showing signs of imagining bigger and better things.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay Colm! Way to be a trooper! You're improving so quickly! Keep that helmet on, though, and don't worry about the unicorns- there is a guy at the skate park on our college campus who wears a hot pink helmet with Barbie on it! It's all good, buddy:) Love Always, ♥Erin

7:15 AM  

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