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Mike Vallely, always an inspiration.

August 16, 2011

South River, 1994.

By the end of 1993, I was broke — in debt to the IRS
as well as to several creditors. It had been a good run but
my skateboard career was over — at least that’s
what I was being told.

I was living in a flea and roach infested dump of a house
by Westminster Mall in Huntington Beach, CA –
I couldn’t afford the rent, I couldn’t afford groceries,
I couldn’t afford diapers for my 10 month old daughter Emily
and I couldn’t get rid of the fucking bugs.

I traded my sports car in for a Mazda Protege —
packed all of my belongings into the cheapest
storage unit I could find and used what should
have been rent money to skip town.

I put my wife and daughter on an airplane
and drove across the country, back to my home
state of New Jersey.

For 45 hours straight and over
2,800 miles non-stop,
through an endless rainstorm,
I rode alone… home.

My parents and my brother and sister had moved
from our hometown of Edison to South River, NJ.
When I arrived at their house at 15 Beryl Street,
they greeted me warmly under a banner of sorts that
they’d made from printer paper taped together with the words:
“Welcome Home Mike, Ann and Emily!!!”
in a pixilated font.

My wife, daughter and I moved into a small
spare bedroom on the 2nd floor of my parents house and
I set an office up for myself in the un-insulated attic
above the room.

That winter was one of the worst winters on record.
Between the amount of snow that fell and the arctic
temperatures we were literally house ridden for months.
I had a lot of time to think.

In the quiet frozen attic of that house I began to
rebuild my life in my mind.

I’d sit up there for hours alone, my frozen breath
like a mirror before me confronting me
every time I exhaled.

I realized sitting there watching my breath
that life goes on, with or without
my participation, and so I’d better get my
act together and get at it.

It became clear to me that there is no time
to complain or worry, just life to be lived.
In the end my suffering just didn’t matter,
it simply served no purpose.

With my wife’s encouragement I chose to
continue to pursue my skating regardless
of industry trends and wagging tongues.
While my parents and others around me
suggested that perhaps it was time to
“grow up” — Ann told me it was time to
go on… and go on I did.

By the end of 1994, I had paid off
my debt, rebuilt my skate career
and had begun truly living my life.

In January of 1995 I returned to California…
A better man.

Mike Vallely

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