At first, the constant thunking and scraping of boards across the street from my room was a nuisance. No - more than a nuisance - a source of angry frustration. Why did they have to be across from me? Why couldn’t they ever at least land a trick to make up for all the noise? And why am I stuck inside with a book when all I really want to do is run around outside playing fun games like them?

Maybe, as the weeks flew by, they got better at whatever it is they do with their little wheely things. Maybe I mellowed out. Maybe someone slipped prozac into my tofu. Whatever it was, I started to enjoy waking up to the sound of scraping pavement. It became part of my daily routine. Wake up. Go to class. Come home. Watch high-school boys fall off of things and swear. Study. Giggle as the campus police pull up to chase them away. Study some more. Go to sleep. Ok, well, if you took out the studying part and put in a little more giggling, you’d have a typical weekday in my world. And without the skateboarders to break up the hours, I would be lost in a sea of books and silliness.

Behind the massive pants and little moving wheels, there lies hidden a quiet sort of wisdom in the skateboarders. The sort of wisdom that can only be learned from falling down and getting hurt and getting up and doing it all over again.

So, here, in no particular order, are the life lessons I have learned from watching.

1. Never repeat a trick once you’ve done it perfectly. This way, everyone will believe that you have always done it perfectly.

2. Ride along the edge and wave your arms a lot. If you fall, it will be expected; if you don’t, it will be a miracle. People like miracles.

3. Shoes are of utmost importance. Without the right shoes, nothing feels quite like it’s supposed to.

4. Once you reach an obstacle (such as a railing, stairs, or in my case, an empty bank account), you must take steps to jump over it. If you don’t, you will smash into things that are cold and hard (such as a concrete wall, or in my case, the U of T Student Accounts Office).

5. When you smash into these hard things and inevitably hurt yourself, don’t scream "FUUUUUCK" at the top of your lungs in a quiet area. The police will soon arrive and chase you away. Being chased away is not a fun thing.

6. If you attempt a particularly difficult trick, there is always the possibility that it will blow up in your face. People will be there to laugh at you when it does.

7. Support your friends. When they accomplish something, make noise and wake people up. When they fall and get hurt, make more noise and wake more people up. But don’t, under any circumstances, tell them that you could have done things better. This will get you a big skateboard-shaped bruise on your face.

8. When you fall down (and you will fall down, don’t pretend it won’t happen), make sure to laugh at yourself.

9. Watch out for cars and big scary trucks. I think it was coffy who told me once "I don’t know very much, but I do know that it’s crucial to avoid being crushed."

10. Fear of flying can be conquered in steps. Fear of anything can be conquered in steps. Except fear of steps - that could take a while.

11. Play. This one is last for a reason. When it comes down to it, immaturity is the reason I wake up in the morning.

In addition to these things, I have also learned that, contrary to popular belief, skateboarders do land their tricks once in a while. In fact, in my limited survey, they landed almost four out of every ten tricks attempted. The figure was a bit lower when I sat near them and blatantly stared (I guess I made them nervous), but I have a feeling that by the time I move out for the summer, these numbers will be significantly higher. And even if they aren’t, it’s nice to think that there’s someone out there still trying.

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