Learning to fly…with a sociopathic teacher.

No, I’m not taking flying lessons. It just seemed like a good title.

I’m learning to ride the ZBoard, which is…kinda like flying, in a way. For me.

The ZBoard, for anyone random reading this, is a skateboard that goes on its own, powered by a big battery, and controlled by two pads. One is ‘Go-go-go’, and the other is, ‘SHIT WHERE THE FUCK DID I LEAVE THE BRAKE’. It weighs nearly 30lbs, and it’s kinda pricey.

But it seems to be worth the price. It’s a pretty damned good mode of transportation, if you can figure it out.

And you seem to be able to figure it out, even if you’ve never been on a skateboard before. Hell, you can figure it out if you’ve never been on a skateboard and have crippling anxiety issues.

My first time on the board was actually inside the house. I rolled back and forth, about the length of the board in distance [it’s a very long board], and disturbed the roommate, who was sure we couldn’t possibly be vacuuming or anything.

My second time was while waiting for an appointment at the VA. I stood on it for a second, brushed the GO-GO-GO ever-so-lightly, felt it twitch forward, yelled, “NOPE,” and skittered away.

Gremlin suggested that maybe I should sit on it and try it that way, just to get a feel for it. I did, but I felt really silly, so I only went back and forth a tiny bit.

Right around then, I started picturing Enemy Vehicles actively seeking me out. I pictured myself being flung into the air [and into the engine of a passing jet, because my mind was dealing purely in videogame physics], and the board getting snapped. And then the car would just continue driving away like nothing happened.

The third time went better. Gremlin got me down to the conveniently located bike path, and got me to stand on it for a little bit before trying to get me to go. We took a couple of trips up and down the bike path [which is pretty much flat].

The first few were with him holding on to my arm. He probably knew I was thinking about my last bike-path-related skateboard encounter [I stood on it, and it decided that it wanted to go away without me].

This is where the sociopathic thing comes in, I think. Normally, all he’d care about is the board. With me on it, though, he’s also looking to make me feel safer, because I’ve slipped into a special category of people for him.

That attempt went pretty well. Eventually, Gremlin was able to let go, and I was able to do it on my own.

That was also the day that I took a trip around the block while riding it like a GoKart. I still felt silly, because I had to cut through these people who were doing skateboard tricks, but…fuck that, it was fun. I got that thing at least halfway to full speed.

Which is when I discovered that riding this damned thing hurts. So I had to spend a few days healing.

My next time was just riding back and forth in front of Safeway. I introduced the concept of ‘extra weight’.

Then, Gremlin tried to get me to go around the block on it a little while later — properly — and I kinda panicked a few times. Also, the sun was in a bad place.

A couple of days ago, a ‘walk around the block’ turned into ‘advanced training’. Hills. Scary, scary hills.

Because it free-rolls a bit. So, if you’re on a hill, you’d better hope you started from a non-hill area. Or, you can master the fiddly bit where you get on it and give it just enough power to keep it in place, but not so much that it tries to go without you standing on it.

That’s…yeah. But I made it up a gradual hill that time, and around a corner, and then: sidewalks. Sidewalks are…well, they’re easier, in a way, because you know where you have to stay. But harder, because holy shit, sidewalks are not smooth and even.

Then: the hill in front of Church A. Which was done slowly, with Gremlin holding my arm. I crossed my first street on it, too.

Also: scarier sidewalk, behind Safeway. It’s all broken up. Another terrifying hill, because cars, and…the Safeway lot was less scary, because it was all nice, even sidewalks.

Then, going home — the scary-scary hill. The one with the shit sidewalks and the cars everywhere. So, where the fuck are the fucking brakes?

But: I made it. And I made the turn. And I made it to the end of the street, before the bikepath began. I panicked at the end because a car was going to turn toward me. I didn’t think I could get out of the way quickly enough, so I stepped off and picked the thing up instead.

That day, I made it to the end of the bikepath — and even over the tricky part of the bikepath, where it’ll get jammed up if you don’t hit it at exactly the right point.

Which brings us to today.

Today’s lesson was ‘up the scary hill’. I made it, although I lost track of the brakes again. And, on the way home, I made it from the bikepath all the way to the house.

I also hit my first rock today, and felt what that was like.

And I nearly fell trying to step off the board, right in front of the house. I didn’t fall, though, which is good.

I’m learning. Bit by bit. Slowly. But I’m learning. Learning to turn, and to keep my balance, and everything.

It’s a slow process, but I might get the hang of it. Not full-speed hang, maybe, but…it kinda feels good to learn.

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