I have decided to skateboard. I turn forty this year and it is time to make some firm decisions. Implicit in choice is my decision to eschew stilts. For several years I ruminated over learning to walk on stilts. It seemed the ideal idyll. It earns you a right to parade in extravagant costumes. It elevates you. It can’t be that hard, right? Yet my intense lack of depth perception due to my nearsightedness held me back. It seemed like the equivalent of a tone-deaf person who wants to learn to sing opera. The drama of it, however, still enchants me. You get to be a clown and delight the masses with such elegance. It is time for me to table the stilts, however. Maybe I will write a poem about stilting to get it out of my system. It would have to be a long, tall poem with colorful scarves and butterfly wings. There would be a gypsy band with a drummer to escort me and a rainbow. They might be a fall from grace. (Not sure about the rainbow, but there is room for revision.)
In the meantime, I have moved to Budapest's urban landscape. I walk everywhere. The kids recently mastered bicycles, leaving me half a block behind if I am lucky to be that close. While I am confident that they will wait at the corner for me to cross the street, there will come a day when they decide that Mom is too slow and they are capable of crossing on their own. They are four and six. I trust them to look for cars. I do not trust the cars to look for them. There is no doubt that I need to increase my sidewalk speed.
My husband owns a foldable bike that is cute and adequate for the job. It is also quite heavy and cumbersome. The constant lugging it up and down three flights of stairs is tiresome. There is always the fear of a bike thief. We once caught a thief cycling away with the bike. My husband was valiant. I screamed maniacally in poor Hungarian. We got the bike back. We do not speak of the incident in front of the children and we have since purchased a heavy-duty lock (which is also heavy to lug around). Yet I still worry as I go about my day that I will emerge from a delightful cake shop (it is Hungarian thing) and not find my bike.
Here in Budapest it is not uncommon to see adults using scooters—a baseboard with wheels and an attached handlebar. They are foldable and lighter than a bike. Instead of locking it on the street, you take it with you inside whatever store or café you visit. As you go up and down curbs you just step off the scooter and hold it by the handles. It is by far the sensible choice. I should get an adult scooter.
Yet I just don’t find it cool. I can’t fully explain it. The truth is that it does not have sex appeal. It is too practical. It is boring and easy. What I need in my fortieth year is a little spice, some danger, and an excuse to ride without brakes. The skateboard is the answer. Now, how does a lady of my vintage acquire street cred? I have do idea where to buy a board or what kind I need. There must be all kinds of considerations—wheel size, board size, and materials. I need to hire a young person who is in the know.
There must be a guidebook: Skateboarding for Old Ladies.
If not, I may be able to write one by the end of the year.