I am sitting on my skateboard in a parking lot. The parking lot is in a strip mall. There is a Target and a sporting goods store and a cell phone store and some restaurants. The asphalt here is smooth. I can smell my crotch. I keep thinking, “I can smell my crotch from here.” I have been skating all day. Just rolling around. Smoking weed and sitting down. Alternating between thoughts of suicide and extreme gratitude. Looking at the sky. Trying to break moments up into small pieces so I can remember.
The thing is, I’m stuck in me and you’re stuck in you and that’s that.
Sometimes when I am working in the city, I don’t know what time it is because I am surrounded by such tall buildings they block out the sun. I cannot tell time by the position of the sun but there are ways the day feels at certain times. How many human generations experience that? Not a lot, and it feels as if we weren’t meant to, like hubris.
I get up off my skateboard and push a few times and get into it and my left leg starts to burn but I keep digging into the concrete trying to put a crack in it, wishing I was the Hulk feeling the same as I did when I was fifteen and always smashing glass. We’d go skate and ruin property because ownership didn’t and still doesn’t make any sense to us so we didn’t and don’t care. We came barreling down hills yelling and screaming making faces at old people throwing firecrackers at infants turning over strollers and stealing old ladies’ purses pissing on the sides of churches and doing lines off headstones.
I decide I want to leave the parking lot. It’s ugly, and I’m tired of commerce. I skate back to my car and head towards Edgewater Drive. At the end of the street is a fence and beyond that fence is an unused pasture. There is an agriculture ditch in the middle of all this and right up against the mountains. My friend Bobby first spotted it coming home from the hills. He picked me up and we parked the car on the side of the road. We couldn’t see any streets that led to it so we walked through the wet farmland. In the winter, it’s especially lovely because the fog sticks to the trees and hangs low above the field and we can skate with this as our background. It’s quiet, there is a little creek besides the ditch and when I stop and sit I can hear the water, my heartbeat, my rough breath, and the sounds of my skateboard still echoing off the mountains. When we finally came upon the ditch, we realized we could have just driven around to Edgewater Drive and hopped a little fence that had a sign reading “no horses” and was tagged with graffiti. After a few months, the ditch became covered in tags and throwies and big fat ugly pieces. The first two pieces were done by Juice and Sketchy Keith and they took their craft serious and I enjoyed watching them paint. One on this side, the other on that. The shape of each side of the ditch then became associated with which tag I was about to roll on.
This world is ugly and I’m tired of concrete. It weighs my eyes down and I can feel it as a tension headache. I’m carrying a heavy soul, so I gotta skate faster. I am trying to outskate the weight in my chest and in my gut. I spot a man, who from the back, looks just like Jordan. Black baseball hat, preferably Chicago White Sox, jean jacket, and converse. But he’s been dead for years now so it can’t be him. I drop off the curb and turn to look at it’s not Jordan.
I am not a big enough fool to think that I could have stopped him after the decision had been made, or even weeks and months in advance but I do play with the idea that if somehow I had been a better friend it would sort of displaced the feeling and maybe if I was just a better person that would happen and one would think I would learn something from it but no, it has only made me disgusted at myself and in turn I take it out on others. I try to hurt them, I want to see them suffer a bit after I say a thing that I know will sting, and it’s like while by myself I feel my lip curl but it really isn’t and I’m disgusted with everything and this includes myself, I do not want to save myself and when I get to this point I don’t want to save him anymore because he made a true decision, the only thing we have any real agency or freedom over is if we endure or we take ourselves out and they look the same to me. This is a prayer; this is my penance, dragging corpses of dead fathers and dead friends. If I push hard enough if I move fast enough dragging them through the streets I can see pieces of them tearing off their diseased and rotting flesh and I get lighter and I keep pushing and pushing. I never want to stop.
Cory Bennet is 32 years old and lives in Northern California. He can be found on twitter @melancory666
Photography: Carlos Santos