Days of (He)elysium

It was the mid-2000s. A simpler time. A brighter time. We were told the bird flu was flying straight to the states, some of us still thought that we were justified in ramming “democracy” into the Middle East, and Randy Jackson of “American Idol” convinced us that any American with stellar pipes and baby blues could truly be one worthy of idolization. In fact, my Kelly Clarkson shrine made out of Magnetix has stood loud and proud at home since its creation in high school. But most importantly, it was the era of Heelys.

Heelys were a wearable revolution — simultaneously a revolt against using legs traditionally and a much-needed threat against the bicycle elite. No longer would people be forced to trod by foot or lug around a board through campuses the size of a Renaissance-era Italian city state. With no more than a brief boost, we Heely hellions were able to roll our way into a momentary nirvana. Who needs heroin when you’ve got Heelys? It may have not been freedom from friction, but it was damn close to it. Had my parents never broken down and bought me that first pair of Heelys I wept at Footlocker for, I would have never had the few precious experiences I did during my tenure at UC San Diego.

I started my freshman year with wide-eyed optimism. Sure, I had no sense of community and I only hung out with my roommates, but that’s just a UCSD thing. I’d often look into Revelle plaza, a wonderland of wheels with shreddin’ skaters and blasé bicyclists alike, but felt nothing when an ollie was popped or a kick was flipped. These hooligans weren’t my people and they never would be. The bicyclists lacked any humility, flaunting their over-designed contraptions and freely swiping their platinum card in order to replace the wheels I’d pop in the dead of night every finals week. I hope you had fun walking to and from Pepper Canyon, chumps. The skaters were much better, always willing to share a smoke as long as I watched their tricks and oily hair shine bright in mid-air.

It wasn’t until I started trolling through Craigslist’s Casual Encounters (RIP) on the emptiest of my empty days that I found a post titled “[M4A] UCSD Student Looking for Hella Heely Homies” and made my first real connection. Finally having found a fellow Heeler, I opened up my student email account seconds after and sent off all the personal details requested: selfie, physical stats, SSN, age, and a short response explaining how Heelys have improved my life. After a few days of waiting, I was notified with my acceptance. Within a week of that, I was introduced to the rest and all eight of us branded each other in a circle — much like a wheel — with the almighty “H” on our chest. The heart wants what it wants.

We had officially formed a crew called “The Rolling Stoners” with matching bracelets and the following four years would be glorious. We’d roll to class, we’d roll to lunch, we’d roll to court. Hell, we’d roll while rolling. Every publication on campus except for the Saltman Quarterly (bless those bio majors) had mocked us for living our lives as we wanted to — fast and furious. It didn’t matter that we were different majors or colleges because we shared that precious bond of Heely hype. We may have got together at first because of the Heelys, but we stayed together because of the  friendship. The Human-Heely bond is not one to doubt.

Unfortunately, a little over a decade later, it seems like our dream of a campus teeming with Heelers wasn’t meant to last. UCSD no longer seems to have any open Heelers whatsoever and it’s a sad state to be in. Where’s the pride? Where’s the spirit? Until new heroes rise, this campus’ hills are there for the taking by whoever steps — nay, rolls — up.