Saturday, July 12, 2014


To stay young, sometimes you have to allow yourself to do idiotic things, even though you know better.

I wrote that in a note on my iPhone while Scott was in the bathroom at the brewery we ate lunch at in Portland. 

I wrote it because I knew I was going to skate Burnside even though it was designed for the non-helmet wearing, beer-drinking, skate-every-damn-day-of-your-whole-life types. At least I had the beer drinking in my corner. I had a Burnside IPA with lunch and somehow, I think it served to help me overcome any secret doubts I had about doing this.

There was a snowy mountain in the distance, but it was 91ยบ under the Burnside Bridge where the skatepark lived. It was built in 1990 by a couple of friends who had originally intended to build a cement half pipe in their backyard, until their landlord found out. Although they didn't fund it, the city of Portland allowed the construction of the Burnside Skatepark because the area, a no-mans land littered with drug dealers with easy access to passing freight trains, was nasty and they hoped a skatepark would change things for the better.

Scott and I checked the spot the day we arrived in the city. Everyone was so good it was like watching a live skate movie. And even crazier, not one person wore a single pad or helmet. With my rate of falling, I knew this was an impossible feat for myself and we both concluded that we wouldn't skate here. It seemed localized and like a major skate scene, unwelcoming of skate newbies who take lessons at the YMCA and wear colored helmets. But I couldn't let it go. In my dreams I was skating Burnside. Not like a ripping maniac, but like me, only braver. I pictured riding around with grace, breathing in the colors of the painted walls, making that handmade park become something I could take with me. I knew I needed to skate there. Like that time I wanted to be an actress at 15 even though the success rate is like 1% or something inauspicious. But I convinced my parents that driving to LA for acting lessons would also help me learn to drive, something I was afraid to do, and somehow they agreed. 

I needed to skate Burnside because I was here and I was capable and I wasn't going to let a couple of dudes who can do five foot backside airs with cigarettes in their mouths keep me from that. The potential embarrassment and even harassment was learning to drive a car on the way to L.A. Skating the park was getting my first audition. Sometimes I have these ridiculous things that I want to do stick in my head and I cannot let them go. 

I made the first drop, but not the kick turn. I ate crap the second drop, but not in a debilitating way. At least all the falling I've done leading up to this has taught me a thing or two about landing the right way on my pads and butt. 

You will notice in the pictures that almost no one took notice of me and my beginner antics in the graffiti painted bowl in the corner. Falling while trying to doing kick turns was about the least interesting thing going on in the area. There were people drinking beer out of paper bags in the parking lot while juggling hacky sacks and a dude with a hawaiian print shirt and Gilligan hat trying to pull a frontside air 20 feet up the back wall. But I finally did that kick turn. And then I did it a few more times. And then Scott took some pictures. And then we got the heck out of there because even from the start I knew my time was limited and I had come to do what I needed to. 


  1. Brilliant! You're my hero Devon, for getting out there and doing it despite the intimidating scene. I wish I had more of this kind of courage. And well done for getting the hang of that kick turn. I spend quite a long time watching the boys (mine, not random ones!) at little local skate parks. Some of the big boys make it look so easy, it makes me want to have a go too. But I'd probably break something and OH would be cross. So I just keep watching. Maybe next time... I hope you guys have a good week. CJ xx

  2. You go girl!!!! You are awesome to skate that place even though it was intimidating. You are the coolest and so inspiring!!

  3. !! You are so brave! I have always admired girl skateboarders, they are rad. My friends (boys) are all skateboarders and when I was younger I wanted to be one of them too, hehe. I even tried skating but I was too timid to continue. I know the feeling how it is when you go to the skatepark and these dudes are there doing their tricks and you are just wondering what the hell i am doing here.. but you just stay and they are always so nice ( you skate or not, they are nice!)

    Hugs from Finland!

  4. You are just very cool. Glad you got to skate that park. :-)


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