The Good Bands Are On Skate Video Soundtracks by Lauren Lavín
Jake moves to our block with his stuttering kickflips in sixth grade. He’s tall and has the same name as one of the Animorphs so he’s perfect in my eyes. Later I try to skate for his attention but I can’t stomach the way the board rolls out from under me, the imbalance, so I start learning guitar because he has one. Soon I’m writing my own songs, and I don’t mind when he asks me to teach him how to play his beautiful girlfriend’s favorites. In eighth grade he introduces me to some high school guys he skates with. They’re coming over to play guitar so I think you should come he says. I feel like you and Frank will fall madly in love. I wear a skirt I made and an Alkaline Trio shirt I cut up and stitched tight over to Jake’s house, where Frank with long black hair is noodling on a guitar and his friend Bob with long blonde hair picks quietly and doesn’t look up much. I think Bob is cute but mostly I’m aware of Jake’s bed and comforter under my legs. By the time I decide Jake is just a boring guy with too comfortable a home life, he’s already moved to a different state. But I still wear shoes you’re supposed to skate in.
Years later, I’m nineteen and working at Jamba Juice with Alex, one of the sweet punk guys I’d met slamming around at shows or smoking Black & Mild spliffs in the creek during summer breaks. He skates, too, in sharp, fierce move- ments that make me think shark. One night after we close he takes me to a party where I see Bob, from Jake’s room. Bob stares with pale blue eyes while I play and sing old punk songs we both like on some guitar. The first time we break up, I tell him it’s like a lightbulb that just won’t turn on and I don’t know why I’m only lit up about him part-time. He’s lit up like crazy about me, but he’s angry too, bitter that he fucked up his knee and can’t skate anymore. He hooks up with a friend of his who has a perfect body, and I forget all the times Bob made me feel beautiful, and I know he’ll get back with me if I want to because he’s still heartbroken, so on Halloween I get him back. I find the girl’s Tumblr where she writes about how upset she is that Bob chose me instead of her again, and I think good.
Alex brings Tony, who skates with something like grace and earnest in his figure, to a party at Kate’s and my apartment. Tony laughs loud and has a killer smile, big straight white teeth. I’m drunk when he introduces himself and I howl Wow, you have great teeth! Kate thinks he’s hot, so I don’t examine my curiosity about him, and I don’t know that this same party is his first attempt to come out from a long period of isolation following an army stint in Afghanistan. As the party winds down and shapes start smearing, Tony and Alex go fucking around in the skatepark across the street. Tony stumbles, eats shit, and breaks off his two front teeth in the bowl. I learn about it from a picture I’m tagged in the next day and I’m horrified, like I cursed his teeth. Bob or Alex reassures me it’s fine, he’s got that army insurance.
Bob connects me with his best friend Cory, who also skates, because we both write. I ask Cory if Bob will like the bootleg Photosynthesis and Mindfield DVDs I found for his birthday, and he says he’ll like anything you get him. I start seeing Cory around the community college campus, and I like his cold indifference and the high contrast thrown in my face when it suddenly evaporates into interest, when the beetle black eyes stay a little too long on mine. Our emails get lengthier and our swapped stories get more sexual and less fictional. I romanticize his drug addictions and his love for the clack-clack of wheels over asphalt equally, imagining them as high towers that keep him ideologically and creatively pure, untouchable, in a way that feeds my fearful need to be in constant pursuit of, rather than sitting in one place with, a person.
Bob’s ever-increasing rage toward me is probably driven by my growing indifference. I’m sick of him calling me a bitch when we fight and the lightbulb shuts off when, in Cory’s backyard, he tells a story about a girl they know who let a bunch of guys run a train on her and I’m like Maybe she had a great time, what’s the problem? I feel for Cory’s eyes with my periphery as Bob explains, A lock that opens for any key is a shitty lock. But a key that can open any lock... We break up for good. Tony and I spend more time together and there are a few grayed-out attempts to connect bodies, but it rubs me wrong, to be an expected thing, and anyway Cory and I are still talking, he’s telling me I’d make a good wife for him and asks me to meet him in Vegas and get married, and I don’t know if I’m scared to be a fool when it turns out he doesn’t mean it, or if my own disbelief is enough to make any us unreal, but for a decade he cycles in and out of me, says I love you, disappears and reappears. The words hurt and confuse, and even though I want to, I never say them back because, in some creatively pure, untouchable way, I feel ran-through.