I got a call around July.
“Hey Pauly G…what’s going on?”
It was my friend Blaker, a fellow friend and snowboard shredder. I knew what this call was about before I even picked up.
“Blaker, what up bud. Where you at? You need a couch to crash on for a few?”
Blake chuckled to himself on the other end.
I picked him up from the airport a day later. As we cruised back to the crib, we talked snowboarding and about the summer snowboard trip he was going on in a weeks time with friends – South America bound. During the conversation it was brought up that one of these friends I happened to already know.
“You know A-Rob?” Blake asked.
“Oh yeah, I definitely know A-Rob. We’ve shredded together in a few places before. He’s one rad dude.”
“Haha, yeah he is…anyways A-Rob gets in tomorrow and not sure what his plan is but we are supposed to rent a car and stuff…or something like that…actually I really don’t know what the plan is…maybe there isn’t one…”
We both laughed, as we knew all to well that A-Rob is one to go with the flow and see how things pan out. As the conversation continued and we approached my house Blake got a text message from A-Rob. Apparently he’d lost his debt card and ID again.
Blake laughed to himself – ”A-Rooobbbb!”
So as we tried to figure out how they were going to rent a car without A-Rob’s credentials, for no particular reason I told them that I could probably take off work and drive them around for that week. With an apartment of 400 square feet, two dogs and a girlfriend I really had no room for two more people and snowboarding gear but I know they’d do the same for me, so with that, the plan was set in play. Everyone was stoked and I was along for the ride…little did I know where it would take me.
That week with A-Rob and Blake was one action packed adventure; picture three snowboarders in a beach town in California. To write about every moment would take far too long but a brief snapshot of what happened will paint a good picture. Obviously, a couple snowboard guys on the beaches of California are going to want to go to the beach and cruise for ladies, but it didn’t stop there. A Volcom fashion show, where A-Rob was double-fisting cheap wine, was quite a highlight of the week and Blaker trying to lay smooth game on models was pretty funny. Later though, there was a failed attempt at surfing beach break waves. Watching A-Rob paddle around on a short board was priceless. Then there was hanging with friends; magazine office stops and video premiere parties with burritos. Finally the last night of drunken debauchery and I-Hop breakfast at 2 A.M. with an early departure flight. I must say that good times happen when you’re on A-Rob time.
The early ride to the airport that morning was a little bit quieter than the rest of the week. Conversations were pretty mellow and there was definitely excitement in the air of what was to come for their trip. I gave them the proverbial goodbye hugs, told them to have fun and of course be safe.
. . .
I remember my very first interaction with A-Rob. I was competing in The North Face Masters big mountain contest and it was the Finals. There were a handful of us at the top and I was sitting up there waiting my turn when all of a sudden this rider popped up from behind one of the start tents, snapped a smooth ollie over a tree, floated by me and landed in a steep face jutted with trees, disappearing into his line. From that moment on, A-Rob was on my radar. After that contest, we continued crossing paths the following seasons here and there and even in some very random spots; in a tent on a mountain pass in Alaska, being one. Good times though and fond memories were created along the way.
Tough days come when you’re least expecting it. After Blake and A-Rob’s stay in California and having seen them off on their plane to South America, I got a phone call a few days later. The voice on the other end spoke softly but stern, delivering the bad news like a car wreck…that… A-Rob…passed away… in a snowboarding accident on the mountains in Chile. I remember my stomach hitting the floor when I got the news.
Aaron was one of those guys who was very spontaneous in the way he lived his life and the funny thing was – he was good at it. Always out to make the best of what life dealt him, he was out on the road with the top down and the tunes cranking, rolling with the flow and enjoying the sights along the way. A true spirit that will forever be missed but never forgotten.
With life at all of our fingertips each and everyday, we must seize each moment like A-Rob. Pow or no pow, make each day worth getting up for. I know A-Rob did…and I know he just smiled when I wrote that line. Cheers bud.