“Can I join your Longboarding cult?”
First off, it’s called the Crew. Second, It’s not a cult or a gang or any other group with potentially negative stigmas actually. I wish I could tell you that no one actually asked that question, but they did, and in all seriousness. It was at this point that I realized I had accidentally created a monster that was slowly beginning to devour the cornfield town of Sycamore Illinois.
In the midst of the societal filter called high school, I was misguided, insecure, and uncertain. Given this mindset, I was paired with people suffering from a similar condition. Rather than allowing it to get the better of us, we reclaimed our identities not as something negative, but something unique.
Perhaps the most interesting part of human connection, is the lack there of. Among my friend group known as the Crew, it’s no secret that we really don’t have a whole lot in common. Besides an unabashed sense of humor that can turn the most dramatic film into a slur of riotous laughter, unfortunately alienating those that don’t quite “get it.”
Spring break of my freshman year, I found many first loves, one of which was a small Sector 9 Longboard (totally not a skateboard, I protested) I shakily attempted to learn how some people managed to so effortlessly glide across the unforgiving Illinois pavement, and eventually the board became an extension of my body itself.
As soon as I got it down, the rest of those that I associated with began to acquire their own four wheeled mounts, and set about on the same journey. Being the youngest of six kids, and seeking identity in novelty, I was less than pleased to say the least. By that point it was out of my control, and the Crew was becoming the scourge of our town, a scramble of teenagers blurring the Illinois horizon, casting shadows under amber streetlights. Our Crew was magnetic. If another longboarder so happened to be out on the streets, we pulled them in without question. It was this sense of unquestioning unity that was a core principle of the Crew.
As the years have gone by, our limitless freedom has faded into the American pursuit of careers and prestige. Starting three years ago, I began hosting the Street Flood, a yearly group cruise in which long boarders, skaters, and bikers gathered to reclaim the streets of Sycamore. The 3rd annual Flood was rained out for the most part last weekend, but I’m thankful all the same to see the dedication of all those who came out.
One such person was in the hospital prior to the Flood, and in spite of his afflictions said to his mother “I have to make it to the Street Flood,” speaking in sheer defiance to the condition that had made him bedridden. My immediate response to this was restrained tears. It was truly a blessing to see that a simple group longboarding cruise has created a town wide reach, as every year in the months to come I would hear occasional comments about the Flood, even as far as someone creating their own hashtag for it, before I could. (#wearetheflood)
I guess the only way to sum this all up would be to say thank you all.
To my enemies- for you negativity, dissent, arrogance, ignorance, and hate. Without these I couldn’t have their opposites: Positivity, progress, humility, knowledge, and love.
To my friends and others- I suppose it goes without saying that I’m thankful to have you here on this journey. As I’m about to enter my Junior year of college, it’s truly a treat to look back on fond memories and prepare for the creation of new ones as well.