Sunday, August 30, 2015

Achilles Heel

Winter 1989

Skateboarding was my predominant mode of transport around the college campus in the late ‘80s. Nothing wild or zany, simply transportation. The University of CA at Santa Barbara had a tremendous network of bike paths, really impressive. This guy, however, had no bicycle. Having visited the campus prior to being a student I realized transportation would be a problem if I arrived with only tennis shoes. A skateboard, I figured, would do the trick, and so it was acquired those few short months betwixt high school and college.

This university campus was unique in that the majority of students lived right there in the on-campus dorms or the very nearby off-campus apartments. This was no commuter school. By means of a quick sweaty skate in modest pedestrian traffic one could generally get from one end of the campus to the other in ten minutes. Once I moved to an off-campus apartment, however, the time frame increased to 15 minutes. Not a problem, heck, skate boarding’s a good time, the sun was generally abundantly hosting super weather in that geographic area, the only thing to spoil the mood was actually having to go to class.

As in any physical activity there were tribulations mixed in with the joys. I once munched harshly skating to a math exam and sat in class for an hour taking the test while bleeding from an open knee wound down my leg into my sock. But it was skateboarding on the cold winter mornings those nearly three decades ago that ultimately left its mark. My left Achilles heel reminds me regularly of my numerous efforts trying to reduce the aforementioned 15-minute off-campus skate time necessitated by a late start.

When on schedule, a leisurely skateboarding through campus was really a treat. But when speed was of the essence I was reduced to taking larger strides for propulsion purposes. I recall that cold January morning when the extended release point adversely affected my left Achilles heel for the first time. It was a very quick shooting pain. But hey, I was late for class and slowing down to assess the source of pain was a luxury I was not willing to indulge at that time. The next week, again, running late, extended propulsion strides, and the Achilles heel again painfully notified me of its displeasure. It was this second occurrence where a thought occurred to me, ‘I wonder how old I’m going to be when this pain in my Achilles becomes a regular part of my daily existence.’ Turns out the answer was 25 years!

This was re-aggravated numerous times in my waning college years before greatly subsiding upon graduation when the skateboard was retired. The pain would occasionally resurface post college, but was, at most, intermittent and infrequent over the subsequent decades. It was the winter of 2014 where that troublesome heel would regularly chime in with its reminder during the cold mornings. Bummer, those first few steps out of bed with an aggravated Achilles, but not a life altering ailment.

This pain, though inconvenient, seems to have struck up something in my subconscious that remembers skateboarding. Silly as this sounds, I regularly have skateboarding dreams though I haven’t skated in over 25 years. In these dreams I skateboard effortlessly, gracefully, and with an overriding sense of extreme confidence. Infallible! A level of skating I never equaled in my youth, but I am impeccably smooth in my dream-state maneuvers and I awaken in super spirits.

I enjoy regaling the kids and Wife Klem of these skateboarding dreams and they think, perhaps, that I’m a goof. I’m inclined to agree.