I tasted too much freedom, the itch on the bottoms of my feet were wrapped tight after a new found desire to make money. Less exploring the world and more exploring of my wallet, sexuality and hometown adulthood. Pressure from my mother to find a job was increasing, where could I find my ultimate trifecta; work, play and bang? My question pressed on until one day an internal light bulb illuminated that which was dark and gloomy; the surf shop. Oh but of course, supple with creativity, cuties, and a curvy bowl. I did what any other horny 17 year old girl would do. Swoop up a damn job.
‘The Shop’, located at the edge of The County on a swampy marsh which rises over 4 feet on king tides. I walk in, hand my resume and hope for the best. Butterflies fluttered my stomach for two weeks, when I didn’t hear any news I returned with curiosity and persistence.
Matty, a manager of the shop; big blue eyed sweetheart, shaggy blonde hair, cheek dimples that could kill and whenever he pleased a tall can in his hand. He sat behind the front counter when I walked in.
I smiled sweetly, “Hi, I’m Lil I came in a week or so ago… just wondering if you had any available positions?” Matty strokes his fingers through his hair, and gives a grin, “Yeah, of course I remember you, funny story.. I actually misplaced your resume that’s why I haven’t called you.” My cheeks turn a light shade of rose, “Well oh, that’s ok, no worries.” Matty’s calm and cool, “When can you start?” I look up at him and beam a big ole smile, “As soon as possible.”
“Alright come in Tuesday after school.”
“Will do! I finish at 2:40 I can be here by three.” He nods. And I skip out the door.
My first day is a dusty dream. Sweeping floors, folding shirts, scrubbing a toilet and as a reward $9.75 per hour. My feet itched to be in the surf shop.
On thursday night, as it so happened, I was out with Val and a couple dudes who we were into, the cool type that don’t give a shit about anything yet seem to be riled up easily and spontaneously. It was skate night at ‘The Shop’. We entered the warehouse through the back door, opened by the big boss. Jesse was one of two owners of TS, a small dude with big blue eyes and a warm vibe. A community legend or so I’d heard. We shake hands, “Hey! Lil, right? I heard you’re workin’ in the front shop. Well we really need to get you in here, we need more girls, it’s a full on bro fest,” he pats one of the ‘boys’, Jake, on the shoulder.
I look at him with astonishment and my cheeks steam up a bit, “I like the sound of that.”
Jesse leads the way through the skate room opening a red door with plastic paneling allowing a glimpse into the scene. Here lies a beautiful wooden ramp, 6 foot half pipe on the left flowing into a half bowl on the right with a big roll-in leading up to an 8 foot vert near the back. It all flows so nicely together. My mouth dropped. Awe took over me like a virus in a healthy body. I had been on a skateboard once, in sixth grade. Seeing these boys skate was an awakening. They looked effortless, floating on tiny wheels up and over curves with a gracefulness that would be hard to imagine if you saw them walking on the street.
“So, have you ever skated, Lil?” Jesse asks with eyes locked on the skaters. “No, but I’m sure keen to try.” I stepped on the board. Right foot stomped over the front bolts. I’m staring at my feet.. How the hell do I do this. “Just push a little, Lil. Then hop on” I hear a voice say with encouragement. So I give a little push, sending my board forward in slow motion with me still on. No shit. Maybe I can do this.
The reality of being one of the only girls in a boys club became overwhelming at times. Gaining respect looked like this; take a fucking heckle like a champ, hopping on skateboards/slamming off skateboards, shredding with the boys. I found my place stumbling. Spellbound and delighted. I threw myself into the scene and didn’t dare move out.
There was nothing I could do but fall, endlessly fall. Enter if you dare, the vortex of ‘The Shop’ captivates, inspires and connects you to another world. Creak through the red plank door enter a portal to another reality. Eyes immediately pulled to a curvy wooden wonderland. Enchantment is inevitable. A muske of dust, sweat and sawdust permeate the air.
Stepping onto a skate was the only thing that made sense. I’d been summoned. The ball of my foot found the sweet spot between the four front bolts. First pushes were sloppy, loose and ended with a slam to the ground. Back on my feet again. Over and over I would push, swing my body up the ramp, come back down with the wind of my own effort in my hair. A taste of freedom was found, I’m salivating.
Slam after slam I couldn’t stop. It wasn’t a punishment, it was a lesson. Change the weight of your leg, turn your shoulders this way-that way, break through the butterflies and that inclination that makes you wanna pee just before you’re about to try something new. My skate was contagious. Even as all these beautiful things kept forming around me, my focus wouldn’t stop rubber-necking on a true-fine-love.