When I was in the seventh grade, I made my mom drive to a skate shop in a neighboring town. The year: probably 1994. The perfume I wore: definitely Sunflowers. The tape I put in my mom’s car stereo: Luscious Jackson’s Natural Ingredients. So when I saw the yellow-and-navy Shawn Mandoli REAL deck with a sunflower on it, I knew it was the one for me.

The guys at the shop set me up, and the rest of my middle school years were spent sitting on that thing at my hometown’s skate park. That’s where I learned to chop it up, crack jokes, and talk shit. It’s where I learned about personal style and it’s for sure where I learned to love the culture.

Recently I attended “Boneless: A Skateboard Show” with like-minded folks at The Athletic, a shop in Northwest Portland. Brian Antosz was kind enough to show his collection of boards, and has a story similar to mine:

1987: While my classmates were listening to Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet and planning their next purchase from the Gap, Public Enemy’s Yo! Bum Rush the Show blew my mind (and ears) away. I lusted for a pair of made-in-Italy Nike Air Jordans (II), watched a bootleg copy of Powell Peralta’s The Search for Animal Chin, and bought my first “real” skateboard (on layaway) from AT Nault & Sons, a bike shop in Manchester, New Hampshire. I never expected these cultural influences to resonate and guide my life for the next 30-plus years. A very sincere thank you to skateboarding and all the weirdos and independent thinkers who shaped my life.

All in all, there were about 200 of Antosz’ decks on display, a great deal of them for sale. I’m not sure how many sold that night, but a portion of the proceeds went to Skaters for Portland Skate Parks—a good cause, I’m sure.

Thanks to The Athletic for letting us in for the night, as well as Brian Antosz for supplying the collection, and Bryce Knights and Nathan McKee for supplying some extra art/eye candy for the walls. But most of all, thank you, skateboarding. Without you, I’d have way less friends.