Scooter Champion

by nkwilczy

There is a small boy, too young to have a concept of long division, who rides his scooter on the sidewalks of my apartment complex. I do not know much of the context of his existence outside of the scooter, from which I must constantly pull my dog who is convinced that there must be something unnatural to the smoothly gliding mechanism. His name is Tyler, Erik, or something else appropriately ethnic, corresponding to the pale hue we share, another thing to set him awkwardly apart in the slum where we live.

But I do know him to love his scooter, lightly gripping the handles while guiding it into graceful leaps at all hours of the day. On rare occasions he falls, and on those occasions I have heard him complain to his mother, a slight hint into his home life is that I only see her alone, that he needs pads and after a brief moment where I shared his childhood passion so intensely that I considered going immediately to provide those pads I wondered instead if it would be better for him to go without, and learn the hard lesson of never falling.

In that moment I found myself imagining a future for this boy, scooter champion, doing all the greatest tricks and aerial acrobatics that have not yet been imagined for his machine. I am old enough to have seen skateboarding rise from idle play to multi-million dollar industry, and I hold out hope that those like him will hold on to their passions and see them through to new and unimagined heights. And for him to be a great, to be a pioneer among his peers, he will have to learn the lesson of never falling.

When I was his age it was poetry for me. What I loved was words, and in them I found my ability to smoothly glide forward with the wind at my back. The path, some might say, of least resistance. The place where I could slide unencumbered, be they idle thoughts or no, into a satisfying conclusion, bringing to my own face the sort of wanton smile I see on his when he lands a jump.

I wondered, later, in my own idle time, whether he would keep with it. Would he be a master of his art, obsess over the form, spending years and years riding that scooter in his dreams until the temptation to live out those fantasies becomes too much to resist? Or will he whittle his life away in compromise, living day to day, trying to flee from the things that hurt him and serving the things that threaten him?

When the bills are due and obligations must be fulfilled, when we are angry and alone, it is often too easy to forget about the things that first lit our souls. But life is short, and we will only have this chance to enjoy them.


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