Tuesday, July 12, 2011

fourth of july weekend with my brother

Today I thought I'd share some photos that I took over the Independence Day weekend when my brother Conner visited La Crosse. I was soooo pleased that he was able to come up for a few days. He just turned 16 in May, so my mom isn't yet comfortable with him driving up from Sun Prairie by himself. We had to rely on rides from others and luckily it worked out that he was able to stay with me Friday through Monday.

I've mentioned in a previous post that Conner is an avid skateboarder - and a pretty incredible one at that, as these photos show. I don't think a lot of people consider skateboarding a sport; rather, they rely on stereotypes and assume all skateboarders are dirty hooligans with no respect for property, public or private. Some are hooligans, to be sure: grimy, sallow-skinned, sunken-eyed, chainsmoking, cussing fourteen-year-olds. I witnessed this sort at the last skateboarding competition I went to... kids putting up an angry front to be considered manly, gawky kids growing their hair out to hide behind. (I see the middle school age kids especially and I just think, agh, what an awful age, just stick it out and you'll be okay. I look back and wonder how anyone makes it out relatively unscathed. It's only in retrospect that I am horrified by the awkward hormone stew of middle school.)

In contrast to those I consider the "lost boys" skateboarders, Conner stands out as cool and collected. Take the last Focus Skate Shop competition I observed: he's not too tough to come over and talk to his nerdy family huddled under blankets on the sidelines, or to give my mom a hug under the watchful eyes of his peers. And then he blows all the other skateboarders out of the water and wins the whole competition. He gets sponsored. He stays humble. He loves what he does.

Conner has always been a fantastic brother: sensitive, protective, funny, helpful - a natural-born leader. He volunteers at Sunshine Supper every Monday night, through no prodding of my parents or anyone else. He is active in a church group. He stands up for kids who are being bullied. (True story. So few people have the courage for this, and it could save someone's life. Human beings can be devastatingly cruel and my brother is someone who helps alleviate this. Is the pride coming through, or should I reiterate?) Girls want to date him, guys want to hang out with him, adults admire how responsible he is. His greatest attribute is his people skills, and I'm excited to see what awesome things he does with his life.

In these photos you can see the athleticism, physical prowess and grace inherent in skateboarding. Conner focuses on what he wants, even if it means trying over and over to land a trick that eludes him at first. He works hard, sweats hard and lands it, good-natured and wryly smiling the whole time. Being somewhat of a skateboarding-disser before my brother took skating seriously, to see these photos (that I took while crouching on the cement for hours, mind you) makes me quite proud of his skills.

A century from now, his ancestors will look at these photos and exclaim, Wow, that was one cool guy. They will be right.

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