The Men Who Stare At Parking Lots
In my formative southern Oregon days we had a solid crew leaving no curb cut, bank to wall or parking lot unturned in our attempt to ride and skate everything we could possibly find. Word of new commerce spread like wildfire. The anticipation of a Taco Bell or Wal-Mart (small town expansion in action) being constructed had us circling like hawks, wondering if they would be foolish enough to build a stair set or bank to loading dock. They usually did and we made them regret it as fast as we could.
Oddly, the most elusive spots were the flatland spots. Seemingly everywhere, seeing a strip of paved ground from a distance is so close to the spirit killing desert-oasis scenario that the let down can be just as devastating, with apologies to anyone who’s ever perished in the sand. The closer you get, anticipation building, the closer you are to being disappointed by an acre of useless concrete besieged by cracks, waves and cars. A sudden bump into a downhill run is navigable for street or skate but a deal-killer for the delicate flatland artist already trying hard enough to keep balanced in some ridiculous position without suddenly having to compensate for an instant increase in unwanted speed.
I am now hundreds of miles away from where I lived for the last sixteen years. If anyone is wondering what I’m up to these days, it’s this: driving around and staring at parking lots. To see me wandering around schools, churches and shopping centers looking at the pavement must bring to mind the futile search for an earring or concert ticket lost forever. I’ve had some success but the restlessness remains; somewhere reasonably close there is an abandoned patch of sealed concrete with shade by mid-afternoon and a bathroom just a short pedal away. No one parks there. No one drives by.