Right before we went to print on our previous issue, an old friend of mine died. As you may have noticed, instead of an introduction last issue, I made a crossword puzzle. That was put together before I got the news of my friend’s passing. I’m glad I went with that, because I don’t think I would have been able to write anything after that news. I wouldn’t have been ready to write what I’m now trying to write, and anything else would have seemed entirely trivial in the face of that loss. A crossword puzzle is definitely trivial, but in a different way.
I hadn’t actually seen Darcy in over 7 years. We didn’t keep in touch. Our lives had gone in different directions after our fast but formative friendship in our mid-teens. But I thought of him quite often, and it pains me now to think that I never reached out to him again just to laugh about an old memory. I wish I had called or emailed or texted, just to ask him how he was doing. Because as far apart as we may have drifted, if my memories of him from half a lifetime ago had stayed so vivid for me, the same was probably true for him.
Our friendship started off, as they sometimes do, with a sort of weariness or animosity between us that was entirely unfounded. Once we got beyond that, our mutual love of skateboarding and ridiculous humour brought us together. That led to long summer days of skateboarding, usually capped off with root beers, whoopie pies, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. After that, try as I might to fall asleep, I’d inevitably be kept awake by the sounds of Darcy laughing as he laid on my bedroom floor and read through my daily Far Side calendar. He was like a kid, always wanting to show and read me “just one more!”, while I preferred to savour them as just one a day.
When it came to skateboarding, for some reason Darcy’s body was able to move best in the Switch Backside direction. He had a mean Switch Backside 180 and an equally awkward and impressive Switch Frontside Noseslide. That’s one trick I can barely do, and another that I will almost certainly never do. But maybe I’ll dabble with them this summer just to see where I get, so I can think a bit about Darcy while I skate.
After a couple of summers, those most formative summers of your mid-teenage years, Darcy started to lose interest in skating. I didn’t though. If you skate for long enough, it’s inevitable that you are going to have friends drop out of skating due to other interests, and at the time, you will or probably did feel some resentment at them for moving in a different direction. As a lifelong skateboarder, you are going to spend a lot of time skating alone, and I sure did in the years after Darcy and some of my other friends abandoned their boards. It was really hard at that time to keep tight friendships with people that had left skateboarding behind them.
In the end, I guess I got to where I always sort of hoped to be. Skating with Darcy was a part of the journey. As they say, the journey or the ride is more important than the destination. It’s been a hard lesson to learn. To consider and realize that all those friends probably hold these memories somewhere close as well. That they didn’t forget those long days of skateboarding and those late nights. And all those laughs. All I can say is it won’t hurt to reach out to an old friend to share a memory while you can. —Jeff Thorburn