Int. Dreams. Night
Last summer I hung out with a group of teenagers that skated. We lived in Seoul and had nothing but time on our hands. Some had quit earlier but started picking up skateboarding again. Some had been skating for years without having to quit. I in the former category. And as an unemployed 21 year old, I had nothing to lose.
These guys had the ferocious appetite to jump down ten-stairs and thrash the grind box. They were miles better than me and I taught myself to get back onto my feet after a nasty slam. I became a more resilient person.
Last night, I encountered them once again.
It was a sunny day in Ketchikan, Alaska. I had no idea why I was in Alaska other than the fact that I used to live there. I heard that a new skatepark was built there recently, so maybe I desired to check it out. More specifically, my old high school was in Ketchikan, a low populated school known primarily for its basketball and dreary location on a city upon a hill – as if it were one.
The only change that the school had was its appearance: a parking garage built in the gravel carpark that sits right out front of the school. The same guys from Korea that I skated with were sitting atop the new construction, jumping off of it with their boards.
I instantly had a flashback to one particular kid, a 12 year old that was the best of the lot (if you look closely, he’s the one with khaki pants and a trucker cap). He jumped off casually, letting the rare sun be his guiding light. He was the only one able to jump down the wide five-stair set at Colt Park in Seoul. However, we were far from Seoul from what I could tell.
Then I heard chants.
“Kris! Kris! You have to jump down this! It’s 21 feet, and since you’re 21 it’d be like a champagne birthday!”
“But a champagne birthday is when you turn the same age as your birth day. I was born on the 11th! I already had my champagne birthday”
“A champagne jump then. . .”
I felt fear looking up at the drop. The medical bills, the pain, and the risk was not worth the cost of looking cool. I’m not teenager anymore. Pain comes more easily. But what struck me the most was that I was afraid to jump.
Sooner or later, I decided to run up the stairs that led to the top of the parking garage. I start to push off the board towards the edge.
Even though it was a dream, it seems that the absurdity of observing it is similar to the absurdity of the past. Trying to document an experience continues to be an endless excavation that leads me deeper into the morning. It’s backbreaking to say the least.
The shared absurdity lies in this idea: to look to deep into both dream and past is sometimes as absurd as interpreting what the doubloon in Moby Dick means. The past is a dream, the dream is in the past. You could even bookend the discussion by saying “Life’s a 21 foot drop” and expect to add significance to what that means (which is a normal thing to do).
As a matter of fact, it is the environment and the way it changes that seems less absurd. In dreams, in the past, and in the present, it is the scenic environment that collides with others like the stroke of a paintbrush. One moment you’re young, the next you’re old. One moment you enter the forest, the next you’re lost in it. One would have a better chance at observing the environmental change that occurs when moving from one dream sequence to the next, or from one place in the past to the future. It’s a basic way of describing what plot means.
On a skateboard, the scene changes fast enough as it is. The least of my concerns when I am riding one is the gravel left behind. What matters the most is the thrill of feeling like I have a place to skate to with a group as lost as I am.
And of course, the last thing I’d want to do is break my bones.