Toner 19

Toner 19
Even Now
By Kevin Wilkins

Here we are. Every reader of this magazine, every friend of every reader of this magazine, and every skater in the world is to an age where we’re no longer observing from the sidelines as our grandparents’ friends, our parents’ friends, or our older siblings’ friends pass away. We are here, watching as our friends expire. It doesn’t seem correct, but it happens. It’s very bad and very stupid and it’s going to happen again. But weren’t we untouchable? Weren’t we below the radar enough, behind the scenes enough, unexplainable enough? Didn’t we adequately side step concerns over real jobs, real responsibilities, and real life so convincingly that we earned ourselves a passover when it came to a disadvantage of this nature? I know the answer. But in hearing the deep, guttural negative, I’m still looking for a way out of the inevitable, knowing that something as real as death doesn’t apply-shouldn’t apply-to anyone in my circles. Didn’t I just talk to him the other day? Weren’t we just shredding together a few hours ago, weeks ago, months ago, sharing the silent stupidity of curb cuts, slappies, or the verb “shredding”? Didn’t we just try some dull-witted handshake and laugh it off as our knuckles cracked ineptly? Didn’t he just let me know his admiration of our mammalian brotherhood, or of my pointless joke, or of my pivot to fakie? Didn’t I just tell him yesterday that he’s one of my favorite people of all time? Didn’t I just tell him? No. I haven’t talked to him in a while. I mean, I hadn’t talked to him in a while. I mean … you know what I mean. I just really liked having him around. By “around,” I mean alive. Knowing that he’s no longer in the area, no longer a couple states over, no longer in contact with those other friends of mine who I know are taking care of him, is like suddenly knowing nothing. And by nothing, I mean nothing. I’m here, we’re all here, and he’s not. I don’t think I’ll write his name on my shoes. I won’t wear a black armband. I’m just gonna be sad for a while. After that, I’ll go places where we skated together, where we worked together, where we learned together, and I’ll smile. Because I think now he’s not only in my thoughts, but he knows my thoughts-he knows your thoughts-and that’s gotta be pretty damn sweet. But really, though. It’s kind of like, here we are, and then, here we’re not. Maybe as we dodge the bullets between now and then, we shouldn’t only try to remember how things were, but also push deliberately, fall on our hips and taste the bruising, nollie over sidewalk cracks and devour that quarter-second, cut our griptape with a rock, not care about it, and live life the way things are immediately. And by immediately, I mean … you know what I mean. Immediately.