I slam my laptop shut. I jam my feet into my felt moccasins, grab my black messenger bag and slam the front door, bang. I check my cellphone’s display. The Coaster, southbound to San Diego, leaves in five minutes. No time to walk.

Our tiny apartment complex is cantilevered over six parking spots, so every heel strike down the front walkway reverberates like an earthquake, rattling central heating ducts and roof exhaust pipes. I tread lightly until the stairway.

Down I fly, quick staccato steps, legs a blur. It’s a hairpin turn to duck into the garage, a weave between the Civic and Passat, a jam of the key into the storage room door handle. I grab my longboard by the front truck, put my foot on the tail and let the nose fall to the floor, crash.

I’m off. The driveway is made up of misaligned concrete slabs; I swerve around the largest bumps. Picking up speed on the downslope, I swing wide right, and just before the street, cut left onto the sidewalk.

My wheels hit the cracks. Bu-bump, bu-bump, bu-bump. I pass the neighboring duplex with the early 60’s model Suburban parked out front, the dingy white stuccoed house with the tree-shaded front yard, the Carlsbad Community Church’s empty parking lot. I cut right down a driveway to the street. My wheels hit the asphalt and start a raucous humming.

As I near the first intersection, Harding and Oak, I start coasting. I look left, right, left. A STOP sign tells me to…

I disobey.

I look down at my moccasins, kick again, look back up. I’m heading straight for a manhole cover. I press hard on my toes, turn the board left, and dodge it.

Along the sidewalk, tufts of fountain grass wave in the slight breeze. An abandoned shopping cart sits halfway on the sidewalk, halfway in the dirt of a vacant corner lot.

At Jefferson and Oak, two apartment complexes crowd the street, making it difficult to see the cross traffic until…

the last…


A white SUV comes barreling at me from my left. Already halfway through the intersection, I hold my course. The SUV doesn’t slow down either.

Madison and Oak. On the opposite sidewalk, three kids on bikes ride towards me. The littlest one, with training wheels, leads the pack. He hangs a left, rolling into the street. He’s halfway across when the second oldest, on a black bike trimmed with neon green, also turns into the street. I weave between them.

Roosevelt and Oak. It’s a four-way stop; I accelerate through it. Splashing and shouting comes from the open windows of the Boys & Girls Club. The roots of the only eucalyptus tree on Oak Avenue bulge in spite of the sidewalk. Boys wearing flat-brimmed hats do kick-flips outside Circle K; their skateboards clatter on the pavement. They see me fly by. I wonder if they think girls on skateboards are cool.

I press hard on my heels and swing right onto State. The late afternoon sun shines on a short row of tiny houses. A sign hangs on one front door: ‘Surf Shack.’ A handful of people sit in the shade of a cocked umbrella, drinking bottles of beer. I want to be like them: not rushing, not late.

Ahead, at State and Carlsbad Village Drive, the stoplight is red. Come, on, come on. I coast to the light, hovering my foot over the pavement, readying to stop.


I swing my foot forward and throw down a big kick. My wheels hit the red brick pedestrian crosswalk. Bumpbumpbumpbumpbump. A convertible turning left waits for me to cross the intersection. I kick again, wobble, catch my balance, then wonder if the guy driving the convertible saw me. I wonder if he can skateboard. I wonder if he thinks I can’t.

State Street’s storefronts whiz by in my peripheral vision: Carlsbad Village Coins, Gee Gee’s Stamps ‘n’ Stuff, The Beat Clothing and Ooh La La Boutique; Vintage Bistro, where I used to work, and a few storefronts down, Relm wine bar, where I now work.

From State and Grand, it’s a few hundred yards to the train platform. The crossing gate bells start dinging. Shit, shit.

Instead of waiting for the red light, I turn left and head down Grand on the wrong side of the street. No cars. The sun glares directly in my eyes. I lift my arm to shield my vision and almost lose my balance trying to swerve around a pothole. Leaving the street, I kick, KICK up the station road. The whistle blows, the breaks screeech, the teal and blue Coaster comes to a stop.

Two girls, backpacks in tow, peer into the screen of one ticket machine; the other is free. The bells are still dinging, the train doors pshhh open. I start punching the buttons. One-way adult ticket, destination: Solana Beach. “Okay, okay, you got this,” says the girl to the other trying to operate the machine. “Last call,” says the conductor over the PA system. My ticket drops into the tray below. The girls are still fumbling.

A few cars down, the conductor hangs from the door by one hand. He holds the microphone in his other. “Please stand clear of closing doors.”

He watches me as I run across the platform. ☼