In 8th grade, fellow amigo Pepe had a birthday party and invited a bunch of people. After the party was more or less over with, we all grabbed our skateboards and headed into the hilly neighborhood that existed between his house and our school. Although few of us were ever any good at skating (I suppose you could have called us posers), we were pretty into it and tried our best to look cool.
Eventually, we all found ourselves at the top of the large hill that faced our school. Nobody dared to go down it, mainly because it was fairly steep, but also because it intersected with the main road (Swasey Drive) at the bottom – and there was nothing but a fence on the on the other side. If you went down it, you’d have to turn pretty quickly… and possibly dodge a car or two, as well.

We all stood at the top, holding our boards. Someone suggested going down in a sitting position, which we all agreed would be kind of lame. Everyone just kind of stood around, looking at each other. Nobody seemed willing to attempt going down standing up, so I stepped forward.

“I’m gonna do it.” I said.

“Are you sure?” someone asked.

“Yeah, it’s no big deal. Here, watch.” I retorted, getting onto my skateboard.

I took off down the hill, gathering more speed with every passing second. About halfway down I started getting “speed wobbles”, and quickly realized that this wasn’t such a cool idea after all. I glanced down at the intersecting street below, noting that there were several cars approaching from both directions.
My mind raced, frantically attemping to compute a trajectory path that would result in the least amount of pain. I was going way too fast to simply step off the board. Steering off to the side of the street I was on wouldn’t work either; I’d fall off if I tried to turn too sharply. By the time my brain had figured all this out, I had no sensible options left. I’d have to brave the main street below and try to make the turn at the bottom.

I rocketed down the bottom part of the hill at what seemed like 80 miles an hour as the cars passed by in front of me. I started to make the turn onto Swasey, and for a moment it looked like I might actually emerge from this foolish act of bravado unscathed… until I hit a patch of gravel and dirt that had spilled onto the road from the roadside.
My board instantly went from 80 MPH to a complete halt, effectively launching me into the air. Although my board had stopped, I remained at the same speed. As I soared through the air, time slowed down. I could hear myself yell in fright, the sound of my voice growing louder as the gray asphalt rose up to meet me.


I slammed into the pavement, face first. My yelling ceased as I skidded across the road through the gravel, leaving bloody bits of skin and clothing in my path. I was rolling and sliding, involuntarily eating gravel and road.
Finally, I came to a stop. I lay there in the street, quietly whimpering in a pool of my own fluids. I was pretty messed up, and felt as if I’d just had my face sandblasted off.

By some stroke of luck, my next door neighbor happened to be driving by, and had seen the whole gruesome incident. Being the nice guy that he was, he stopped his car beside me and got out. Without saying a word, he scooped me up, put me in his back seat, and took me home.

After he kindly dropped me off and explained what had happened to my parents, my folks’ first question was “Are your teeth all right? How are your teeth? Are they okay?!?”. My orthodontic and dental work had been a major investment for my folks, so their main concern was for my teeth. They didn’t care that my head looked like a giant raspberry, or that I could have died. Once they saw that my teeth were (very surprisingly) unharmed, they said something to the effect of “Ahh, go soak in the tub for a while. You’ll be fine.”

It took about a week and a half for the swelling and irritation in my face to go away, and the rest of my body healed up pretty quickly. This incident marks the beginning of the end of my skateboarding days, and it didn’t take much time for me to come to terms with the fact that I probably wasn’t cut out to be a skater.

I still have scars on my knees, which will always be a reminder of my fateful day on the hill.