It’s late spring in 2008, I’m living in a pilot therapeutic care program an hour out of Melbourne in a country town that grew roots in my heart; the first place that still feels like home.
It’s a warm day and we’re restless, two 15 year old kids with a painful need to always be chasing the next distraction. After deciding we want to go skateboarding, we then have to round up the staff and convince them to drive us to the local skate park. A tiny place with one bowl and one half pipe, surrounded by acres of neighbouring farm properties and a pony club.
The car pulls to a stop and before the worker has the chance to put the hand brake on we’re out of the car and heading over to skate.
My housemate, for the sake of anonymity we’ll call him Meerkat (His head was always on the pivot and his dark brown eyes and messy hair reminded me of Meerkats I had seen at the Zoo) was heaps better at skating than me so after the 1.5 seconds it took him to build up the courage to drop in on the half pipe, he’s going back and forth attempting to spin the board as he gets to the top so he can stop then drop right back in again.
After five minutes we’re frustrated we’re not already pro-skaters so decide to up the stakes and head for the nearest massive hill we could find. We all pile back into the car and drive around the local country roads searching for the perfect hill, we’re just about to give up when we see a one that would put fear in any of the local kids, it’s pretty much vertical bitumen for 100 metres.
The worker parks the car at the bottom of the hill and me and Meerkat make our way to the top, projecting bravado because there’s no way either of us are going to chicken out at this point. As soon as we make it to the top of the hill we both decide we’re going to go down at once instead of taking it in turns. The hill is so steep that immediately after putting both feet on the skateboard I’m hurtling towards the bottom of the hill at an ever increasing speed. The wind is rushing past me so fast it’s making my shirt stick to my chest, my eyes open wide and I square my body lower to the ground to get more balance. I feel so alive, there’s no thoughts going through my head except for making sure I’m balancing ok and not headed towards any of the parked cars that are scattered on the side of the road.
Everything is going fine until I’m halfway down the hill, my trucks that I loosened so I could turn easier start to make the board wobble, at first its manageable but it quickly becomes a lost cause. I begin to panic, I’m three quarters of the way down the hill now and going so fast I know bailing isn’t going to end well. I have no other option so I step off the board and try to force my legs to keep up with the speed the rest of my body is hurtling down the hill. I can only keep it up for a few giant steps before I hit the road, sliding on my elbow and side for at least four metres on the hot bitumen before finally coming to a stop.
One of the workers races up to me to make sure I’m ok, I’m sore and have some pretty gnarly grazes on my elbow and knees but I know I haven’t done any serious damage. As soon as I can stand back up again I hunt for my board which had shot past me when I got up close and personal with the bitumen. I decide that I’m not going to let this hill beat me, that before I can talk myself out of it I’m going to try again straight away.
I’m a man on a mission, I limp my way back up the hill sore but determined as ever. At the top I take a deep breath and look down at the spot where I had stacked it just moments before, there’s no way I’m going to leave this hill before showing it I won’t be beaten so easily.