The skateboarding accident that made me a better photographer.

It was two summer ago when I suffered a mild skateboarding accident that helped turn me into the photographer I am today. I was rolling down a hill and “slaloming”  between some pylons that were by the side of the road (quick side note going fast is one of the most essential parts of riding a skateboard). I noticed that I had a little bit too much speed and with the upcoming parked van ( that’s not a typo, the van was parked) I tried to get my foot off of the board in order to slow myself down and swerve out of the way. The attempt was in vain, I was too slow and only made it halfway, the foot was off the board ready to extend just a few more inches before the sole of my shoe would hit the concrete thus slowing me down. But since my left foot was off of the board and my right shoulder was what hit the side of the parked van (still ashamed of myself) this created a kind of forward momentum which only increased the pain when I landed. It was the dumbest idea ever to try and slalom through the pylons at that speed, it probably would of been better to simply hit the van full-on rather than try to swerve out and extend my foot. But by the end of this half second hiccup I came to an abrupt stop and all of my weight landed on the inside of my foot. I should be glad that My body wasn’t shifted slightly more to the right, because if it was I may have ended up landing on the other side of my ankle and the way that ankles roll I could've easily done more damage, probably broken or at least sprained. But speculative details aside It hurt like hell and I was off of my board for approx. two months in the middle of summer.

Skateboarding was and still is a big part of my life. After the accident I had a large section of my time freed up due to the pain in my foot keeping me off the board. I was still mobile enough to walk with a bit of a limp. At the time I was already taking long walks with my camera, it was this incident that made me do it more regularly. It’s funny to think that because of that injury I may not have become a street photographer. I don’t know if there was a literal butterfly under my foot, I was in too much pain to check, but I’m starting to think that it’s that extra time I spent taking photographs, and experiencing life on the streets that helped give me the experience needed to increase in skill as a photographer. Every once in awhile I still feel a minor sting in my right foot (my left foot was the one that I injured, but since I walked around so much with nearly all of my weight on my right foot I still feel an occasional sting that I feel is due to the after effects of this injury). Maybe I should think of photography every time it happens. Like a war wound that reminds you of some valiant effort you made on the battlefield. It was painful, but it altered my life in a way that I don’t have a good sense of the type of person I would be without it. I guess everything works out in the end.

Thoughts on home and life

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a place to live in have that special place in your heart, the indescribable emotional attachment, in a word, just feels like home. I think that a lot of people choose their home because of economic and social reasons. But I think there’s more to it than that, especially here in Newfoundland. I believe there’s something else that keeps people coming back to this great big rock, regardless of whether they move away and want to come back or just feel as though they could never leave. There’s a certain thing, it’s hard to put into words, but there’s something that keeps people attached to this place with a kind of passion and inherent belonging that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

I believe that it has to do with our idea of home. The place where we grow up has a very interesting quality to it that can only be described as the place that we grew up. But what exactly do we mean? Some people don’t have fond memories of home and that’s a shame, but what I’m talking about is the fact that there are people that never leave their hometown. I know lots of them, in Halifax and Corner Brook there are plenty of people that just feel as though where they grew up is enough to keep them satisfied. I think for some people a part of our intrinsic “self hood” is the place that we reside in. The place that we made our formative experiences in life is very closely linked with our identity of who we are.

My grandfather loved looking out of his front porch and seeing the field that he used to play baseball in, being in the same neighborhood that he grew up in, being close to his family, and I’m sure there are a dozen other things that I’ve never learned about or are forgetting. I think this identification with a certain geographic area is very peculiar and fascinating. Being the age that I am I don’t feel much sense of nostalgia for the schools that I went to, fuck those places. But I do feel a sense of belonging to the city of Halifax. Like the city is a jigsaw puzzle and I just happen to fit in well. There’s something about knowing exactly what’s down every side street and alleyway that makes me feel like a kind of a master on the subject. Seeing the slight changes in the potholes over the winters and recalling the memories of riding down each street on my skateboard, remembering the pain when I walk by the places where I wiped out and a similar rush of ecstasy in the places where I landed the tricks all give me the kind of feeling that I am at a loss of words to describe and I can only attempt to describe it as “homely”. I think it’s this constant recalling of past experiences and sense of belonging that keeps people on Newfoundland. I think moving to another place just adds unnecessary speed bumps of sorts, where you need to make new friends, meet new people, and forge an altogether new path for yourself. Moving is a big change, it was a good thing for me, I felt as though I needed that kind of big change in my life. But I also believe that for most people the slow gradual change of seeing something evolve very slowly over years and decades can be just as meaningful and necessary to our sense of becoming the person that we want to be as uprooting yourself and learning to live outside of your hometown. To be a part of a community for your whole life is something that the jet-set lifestyle can’t accommodate. The traveler has an infinite place to stay, but nowhere to call home. I’m glad I have a home, I’m glad I left my home, it’s funny to think that being away from home is what made me understand the idea even better.