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Skateboards and Nintendo

The mailbox of the office where I work is at the end of the parking lot by the road. I like to go out and get the mail in the afternoon because it gives me a chance to get outside and move away from my desk. I also like the mailbox because it is a large old-style mailbox with a big red flag that I enjoy flipping up when we have mail going out. Somedays flipping up the big red flag feels like a major accomplishment.


On a recent afternoon I went out to get the mail and stood by the mailbox for another minute soaking in some of the early December sunshine. I looked across the road and noticed a girl riding a skateboard in the parking lot of the church that sits on the other side of the road from our office. She would weave in and out of the parking signs and then turn in a big loop at the end of the parking lot and weave through the signs again. She looked to be about 14 or 15 and the skateboard looked longer than the ones I remember from when I was 14 or 15.


I was happy to see a kid doing something outside on a seasonably warm afternoon. I noticed myself becoming the get-off-my-lawn old man and saying in my head “When I was a kid we played outside until the streetlights came on!” I feel like I was always outside playing in the woods or shooting baskets or riding my bike. I could be wrong. I think I spent my fair share of time inside. We tend to glamorize our past to the way we want it to be and sometimes not the way it actually was.


Nintendo had recently come out when I was 14 or 15 and we spent time playing video games-inside, in our rooms, sometimes alone. We called it “No-Friendo”. The stigma around that was if you were inside playing video games by yourself you had no friends because all the other kids were outside playing street hockey or capture the flag. I remember times that I was inside, by myself, playing No-Friendo.


I watched the girl skate in the church parking lot for another minute before I went back in the office. I wondered if she had just come home from school. I wondered if she was even in school or was she a virtual learner. Mostly I watched and hoped that she felt some happiness weaving her skateboard between parking lot signs on an early December afternoon.


I know I felt happy standing next to a mailbox in the sunshine on an early December afternoon.



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