Have you ever spent an hour on Instagram, clicking around endlessly? Where you start on your homepage, one of your mates posts something, tags a person you don’t know, you start clicking and suddenly you have twenty tabs filled with profiles and/or skaters you’ve never met? Still, I’d place a bet that if you put these persons in a room, they would have a great time because, according to my theory, they’re all connected. I don’t mean connected because 75% of them has a hole in one shoe, or they kick a board twenty hours a week but connected because they know each other via via via via via.
The point I want to make is this: Wesley de Jong from Hubbeschubbekutjeveen in Friesland knows Tobias van Rooij in Haarlem, Tobias knows Yannick Wijgman from Arnhem, and because I know Tobias, Wesley and Yannick, they know each other. Or: I know Martijn van Velden from Delft, Martijn knows Woetoe, Woetoe knows Bastiaan van Zadelhoff, and I used to buy shoes off of him when he worked in Almere. Bastiaan knows Igor Sjerps and Igor could know my father since he had to shut down a party Igor and co. were having, because of fire safety or something. And because I know Tobias van Rooij and Efrem Angela, they would take a drive to Groningen to stay over at my house, even though they didn’t know each other before. That’s why Tobias’ interview is not only photos of the man himself, but everyone he filmed with while shooting this interview. Also, I don’t mean to brag by throwing all these high profile names in the mix, I’m just trying to get to the next topic of this Essay.
A few weeks ago, I stood in a windy hole because Wesley de Jong was about to throw himself of some sort of edge, and I had to take a photo. I’m not sure if it was the cold but suddenly Wesley started talking about a few fleece jersey’s Tjerk was making for him. I knew a Tjerk through Frederick Walker, who is a mate of Wesley too. I knew Tjerk on a high-five base, if we see each other we ask how the other person is, but I don’t know the name of his dog. If he even owns a dog. So, although it was a fact I doubted a bit, it was still a fact: Tjerk was making fleece jerseys for Wesley. An unexpected announcement which left me searching for words, but something like “sick” would have done the job.
Back home I discovered I was working on a little Wesley de Jong archive. Because you can’t just throw four photos of the same skater in a magazine without attaching some kind of interview to it, I was left with the urge to do something with this guy. I wasn’t sure if he had inspiring life stories, but I wasn’t ready to go for the standard interview questions either.
I’m from Lelystad. Lelystad is more than Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet Amsterdam, Lelystad is more than the leftovers of people unfit to live in Amsterdam. It’s the first city in the Netherlands built out of nothing, and the city prides itself in having the roads for cars and bikes seperated from each other, and it’s the only city I hate in a special kind of way. Nobody can say something wrong about Lelystad, only people that come from there are allowed to talk shit about it. Another secret: the Stadhuisplein is not only home to a huge pillar with a statue of mister Lely on top, it’s also one of the best plazas of Europe. The ground is smooth, dries quickly, there’s a bunch of curbs, stairs and slappy curbs, and it’s got a donut stall most of the year. There was a year where Lelystad had the highest healthcare costs of the country, explainable when you calculate the enormous amount of frying that goes on in the city. Somehow, despite this frying pan addiction, the hospital filed for bankruptcy a few years ago.
Wesley de Jong lives in Meerstad. Meerstad is nothing like Lelystad, the two places are exactly 134km apart if you would take the A6 and A7. Meerstad is not a city but a residential area inside Groningen, and where Lelystad was built up out of the sea, Meerstad is a place where the council dug a hole to create a lake. Completely different and somehow the same.
When I think about Wesley in Meerstad I get confused. Wesley drives a little can of a car, dented on all sides after multiple encounters with a skateboard, covered in stickers from every random brand you can imagine, and his wife doesn’t like to sit in this car.
Wesley has a wife.
Skaters that marry confuse me. A girlfriend or partner is something I can imagine, I’m in the same boat. When your partner says “my girlfriend, boyfriend, partner is skater”, the word skater comes off as if skating is just a pastime of the person, instead of an unhealthy obsession. But say something like “my husband, wife, person I married to is a skater” you’re suddenly married to the skater. Not with a skater, the skater. When I think of Wesley in Meerstad I think about the skater living in a newly built house, in a place where all curbs are perfectly square, where no wax marks are to be found on random, useless objects because there are no useless objects around. In Meerstad you will find nothing useless, you will only find newly built houses with perfect little families, sharply cut grass, and a lost tin car between a bunch of Skoda’s and Volvo’s.
Instead of an interview, I asked Wesley to send me a bunch of photos from the place he lives at, which should give you a better idea of where he is than I could ever describe.
Somewhere earlier this month, Wesley drove his little tin car to my house, stopping only to pick up Hobbe Hollands. Hobbe is a skater and has a girlfriend, but they do have two kids. Hobbe is married but arranged it differently. Hobbe and Wesley are the skaters someone married to.
Wesley and Hobbe came to my house to meet up before skating. They were greeted by my girlfriend, who is together with a skater. Me. I’m a skater with a girlfriend, my girlfriend has a skater as boyfriend. Before the coffee she poured for Hobbe and Wesley could cool down, more skaters arrived on the sidewalk in front of my house.
I walked outside and out of an even smaller tin, or something like an old, vintage lunchbox, four whole skaters stepped out. Two of those were expected, the other two were a complete surprise. Tobias and Tjerk were in the front seats and folded away like sandwiches on the bottom of a lunchbox were Efrem and Rutger Vonk. I knew Efrem already, that wasn’t true for Rutger but then again, I knew him through Tobias, Tjerk and Efrem. What?
After stretching the legs everyone came inside, and Hobbe and Wesley, the skaters, were accompanied by Tjerk, a skater without girlfriend and thus just skater, and Efrem, Rutger and Tobias, all a skater because they have a girlfriend. To count it up: two of them were “the skater”, five were “a skater”. But we know each other via via via, so we’re all skaters in the end.