The Joy of Rediscovering a Piece of Your Teenage Years
Photo: Adam Funari
One of the first things I do in the morning is spark up my phone—check for new email, read a couple of headlines, scroll through my Instagram feed. On Saturday mornings, Instagram is usually filled with nightlife pics, shot by friends who were obviously up a lot later than I was. In the past few months, though, I’ve been waking up to photos posted at the crack of dawn, showing two of my friends, Adam and Paul, busting moves in skate parks. Cool pics, but I was perplexed. Who the hell skates at 5:30, 6 in the morning?
I met Adam and Paul a few years ago, back when I was the one taking nightlife pics in the wee hours. They’re a few years older than me, but they play music in a couple of different bands, so they were out and about at the same weird times as me.
These days, though, I’m in bed before midnight, and it looked like my buddies were suddenly getting up wayyy earlier than me. What happened?
Turns out they were reviving a passion from each of their younger days. They started wondering, Hey, how come we don’t skate anymore? “I used to skate all the time,” says Paul. “Other stuff took over, and by that time, all my friends kinda quit skating, too.”
Adam’s experience was similar, and once they discovered they both missed the sport, the next step seemed obvious: Go skate!
There was a slight problem, though: It had been at least a decade since either of them had spent any serious time on a skateboard. And while they had been getting older, the kids at the skate parks stayed the same age.
“We wanted to get away from that scene of everyone hanging out and watching,” Adam says. “I’m self-conscious, I’m old, and I can’t skate that good.”
The solution: Go when all the teenage rippers are still in bed. Paul and Adam started arriving at the Hawai‘i Kai skate park before sunrise, powered by the sleep schedule of responsible adults. “As the sun was coming up, we’d be cleaning out the bowls,” Adam says. “And we’d have the place to ourselves for at least an hour before anyone else showed up.”
The empty park was exactly what they needed. While their first skating sessions were fun, they were definitely out of practice. “In my brain, I could remember all these tricks, but my body couldn’t do them anymore,” says Paul. “It was frustrating.”
They kept going, though, and it wasn’t long before they started visiting other skate parks for variety, and then branching out into ditches. (O‘ahu is full of hidden drainage ditch spots that are legendary for skateboarding: Wallows, Stoker Hill, Uluwatu’s, Zones.) And when they had skated all the well-known spots, they went exploring to find new ones, bringing along brooms to sweep away debris and make the rough surfaces skateable. (It takes a little work to have fun.)
Along the way, they were Instagramming and Facebooking photos of their adventures—these were the images that I was waking up to every Saturday morning. “Suckin’ guys,” I’d think. “Looks like fun.”
I wasn’t the only one being inspired. A lot of Adam’s and Paul’s other friends, similarly lapsed skaters, were digging all the sweet action and wanted to join in. It got to the point where, whenever they ran into friends, the only things anyone wanted to talk about were ditches and skating. Everyone had an old memory to share, new ditch spots to suggest, even logo designs for possible stickers and T-shirts.
By the time Fourth of July weekend rolled around, Adam and Paul were able to assemble a ditch session with almost 20 people. What had started out as a couple of guys messing around was turning into a real scene, complete with hashtags: #ditchlife #malamatheditch #livefortheweekend.
They’ve learned a few things, pursuing their new obsession. There is a finite number of times that a non-skater girlfriend will happily tag along to a hot, dusty ditch to watch you hop over stuff. The number of bruises, scratches and scrapes offered by a skateboard, on the other hand, is infinite, and 39-year-olds don’t bounce the way 15-year-olds do.
But the two don’t plan on stopping any time soon. “It’s addictive,” says Adam. “All I want to do is skate now. These days, I see a sunrise and I’m like, Well, c’mon, the day is happening!”
I’m not yet leaping out the door at the break of dawn, myself, but the thought that it’s possible to reclaim old passions, and carve out new hours of the day, is heartening. Stay rad, guys.