“Should we get skateboards!?” My sister messaged me one day at the beginning of yet another Covid lockdown.  I laughed her off, and probably didn’t even respond.  My sister and I, two grown adults, found ourselves unexpectedly home again, living under our parents roof.  We had become closer, and more whimsical, than ever.  

During lockdown, we picked new obsessions like flowers.  We dove headfirst into yoga, Spanish, knitting, hillwalking, baking, crosswords without much thought.  But our very favourite was surfing.  The sweet progression out of the ‘total beginner’ category most likely would never have happened if it hadn’t been for a worldwide pandemic.  In those salty lockdown days, I felt blissfully grateful that I was getting this opportunity to do what I never would have been able to in normal times. 

As a damp winter seeped in and the buzz of summer wore off, my sister returned to her city job, and I to teaching.  Away from the sea, away from our surfboards, away from each other. 

I don’t know why I had initially dismissed her suggestion of skateboards, but it had planted a stubborn little seed in my idle mind.  Due to the fact that I had a sense of humour and a ridiculous amount of time on my hands, it wasn’t long before I began looking up videos and looking at prices.  

Google filled in the gaps of a language that was unknown to me.  I learned about the difference between cruisers, longboards and surf skates, I learned about trucks, bearings and pivot cups.  I watched videos of 10 year olds in Madrid, ripping around urban skateparks.  I fantasized about what board I would get, where I’d take it.  Oh, the places we’d go!  Eventually, my curiosity could wait no more.  And I texted my sister back, four months later “I think I’m ready to get that skateboard.”

Naturally, the surfskate piqued my interest the most.  This is a style of skateboard which mimics the movements of surfing.  It has a loose front truck that pivots, allowing you to carve deeply and essentially “surf on land”.  I loved the fluid movements, the cutbacks, the pumping.  I hastily clicked “pay now” on a website I had never heard of and sat back, waiting, with an inkling that I’d just paid €150 to make an utter fool of myself. 

Trudging back to my house after my daily lockdown ramble, I passed an unusual delivery van coming out of our gates.  Sprinting to the back door, I saw the long cardboard box resting against the wall.  I tore it open, and with reverence, slowly drew the skateboard from its plastic filmy sheath.  It positively glittered. It was love at first sight. 

In my waiting for this much anticipated delivery, I had compiled a list in my head of spots that I thought would be smooth enough for “a good go”.  Of course, it was of great importance that there would be no one around to laugh at me.  

One of these spots was the very yard of the school in which I had been sub teaching recently.  With the kids being off, I thought I’d hit the jackpot.  Not a soul would be here.  I pulled in, threw open the boot and began to “pad up” with protective gear I’d bought for this very purpose on Facebook marketplace.  

As I tentatively reached the edge of the yard, I suddenly noticed with horror, the outline of the principal hunched in his office, turning his head to see who was approaching the school.  The embarrassment of the principal seeing one of his sub teachers scoot herself around the yard was too much to bear.  I practically dove back to the car for cover, and headed for anywhere else. 

I drove around alone, fully clad in a skiing helmet, knee, elbow and wrist pads, scanning my locality with a new set of eyes.  There had to be somewhere smooth enough where no one would see me.  After a few laps around the town, I reluctantly pulled into the athletics club car park.  I parked the car as far away from any others as I could, and impatiently waited for the other people to leave.  They didn’t of course, and I cursed under my breath.  Swallowing (most of) my adult pride, I pulled a scarf up to cover as much of my identifying features as possible, and wedged myself out of the car. 

I had come armed with headphones, to erase myself from the outside world, and  also to deter anyone who might dare approach.  I prayed that people might just assume I was a rather large twelve year old girl, whose mum or dad had driven them to a carpark to try out their rollerblades.

A few minutes passed, and to great relief, no one bothered me.  Some were curious to see me go, but after a minute lost interest, and returned to what they were doing.  After the bout of heated self consciousness, I became totally absorbed in what I was doing. Pushing, leaning, steering, speeding up, slowing down.  

Of course it took a while, and I did suffer a few tumbles due to leaning back too much.  But something very small had clicked.  I could thread myself through invisible markers, I stopped having to tell my feet what to do and felt them just do it. 

I floated, I glided, I looked where I wanted to go and my board took me there, like an instinctive magic carpet.  I even laughed out loud at the joy of it all, and couldn’t stop the smile that was under my scarf disguise. 

An adult, on my own, learning to skateboard. Yes, I am aware that I am very much a loser. But inside my mask I knew I was really a winner.

Videos that go along with this story:

Unboxing the board! https://photos.app.goo.gl/TPb4CMaqWyCiZekXA

First day on the board!


Skating in the school carpark!


First time venturing out on the board (Finn Valley carpark lol I’m DYING laughing rewatching this and my “disguise”!)


August 16, 2023 — Sab Medlar