Overhearing a conversation can take you back

It’s truly interesting what I overhear when I am walking between classes at Southern Oregon University. Love lives falling apart, teachers not being fair or unclear about what they want. Sometimes just daily life.

Once I overheard three women discussing the difference between a long board and a short board. I could only deduce that they were talking about skateboards. A young girl wearing high heels and clothing to go with them was waxing poetic about how “sweet” it is to ride her board down the hill that leads onto campus and past the library. The “smooth ride and speed are amazing,” she said.

This made me melancholy and thoughtful of years gone by and my early days on campus in the 70s.

Now, I wouldn’t even think about getting on a skateboard. I’m a non-traditional student whose bones would take longer to heal than these kids have been alive.

Have I developed fear or just common sense? Either way the thought of walking around with a leg in a cast or, more likely, of spending time in traction, steers me away from some of this youthful craziness.

Some of the speeds that these kids develop coming downhill on a long board send chills up and down my spine. I’ve seen them blow through stop signs and, worse yet, stoplights without slowing down or even looking for traffic. Makes you wish for the days of feeling invincible– or does it?

Having lived through the days and years of body surfing waves meant only for long boards, skiing down the mountain at breakneck speeds (or at least what felt that way), and scuba diving in the kelp beds off the California coast, I’m content with the slower life.

Last weekend Angela, my wife, and I, went snowshoeing again on Mt. Ashland. The temperature was 24 degrees, the sun was playing hide and seek through the clouds and the snow was soft. We ventured toward the valley for about a mile and a half and stopped to take in the view.

On the way back up, I started to break a sweat– a heavy sweat. The brace on my right leg was digging into my shin, my left knee ached and I thought that it was too soon after surgery to be doing this. I needed a break. We stopped to enjoy the view again. These stops became more frequent and longer. Damn, where is the wussy setting on this elliptical trainer? Truth is, this was no piece of workout equipment and there was no getting off.

I began to wonder how sweet it is to run a half marathon, ski down a mountain at break-neck speed and ride a skateboard down hill through a college campus.

Another glance at the valley, and away I went.


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