I remember roller skating as a child. My parents took me to the roller rink a few times, I went to church functions and grew up seeing my dad in roller skates. I took some time for me to go out on my own, I was so afraid to fall. When I was six or seven I saw a woman fall and hurt her leg bad. But it was my favorite song, “come and ride a train.” that got me off the wall of the roller rink. I realize now that it was that song and watching my dad glide on the rink with ease and speed.
As I grew I got better at skating. I got roller blades one year for Christmas and I started to go on competing with myself. I would go over speed bumps with a new found confidence, not feeling a fear of falling anymore, but invigoration and joy. I looked for new dangerous places and fell a lot more. This time I had some padding though, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards–they provided me some security and super powers. My favorite spot soon became the large speed bump in the church driveway in the down hill parking lot.
Somewhere along the way things went wrong for me in roller skating. When I left Michigan at ten, my life was never the same. Looking back I don’t think this was as bad of a thing as I used to think in my teens but I was changed forever after leaving my hometown and friends.
When I moved to Arizona, I remember 5th grade and how terrible I felt. It took me longer to make new friends, I lived in a kind of sketchy area of Mesa and I was now regressing in school, due to the fact that the school district was poor, I was now in a portable building. As I look back as an adult, I now see that I repeated the same material I had learned the year prior, perhaps this is just because there is padding in grade school. Anyhow, I had difficulties adjusting to the temperature and the environment of Arizona. My body took time to adjust in every way, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
That year in 5th grade we went skating for our school class party and it was’t the same for me. I had developed such a fear again and my allergies had gotten so bad from the dust, and new plants and heat of Arizona, that I could hardly breathe. I ended up leaving early with my dad after going around the rink one time.
I missed my hometown, my friends, and the rollerblading in my front yard. I thought about how I had learned to ice skate in the back yard of my friend’s house. How everything had been more simple before, and now what was so simple before seemed so out of reach now.
The next year we moved from Mesa to Scottsdale. I started 6th grade and found a popular crowd of girls right away that befriended me. All of my worries started to fade and my attention was turned to shaving my legs, and dating the more popular boy in the class who to everyone’s shock had a crush on me, the “new girl.”
And so we started, “going out.” Wow that seems so funny to me now. My first real boyfriend that liked me, and I didnt even have eyes for him. He was so popular though, and my new friends were jealous of me. He had bleached his hair on the top and spiked it in the front with hair gel. It was so ridiculous but cute at the same time. I was so awkward, I had such crooked teeth and my friends started rumors about me because let’s face it, girls can be so catty and mean. That year I got braces on my bottom teeth. The romance with my first boyfriend in 6th grade ended because of my refusal to actually “go out” with him. Found out that he was already macking with some other blonde at the roller rink. My friend Amanda told me that because of his rejection that he spread a rumor that I had bad breath. My social life was ruined, albeit temporarily. I soon developed another crush and became boy crazy.
The battles in love and life were set up from then on. My rollerskating had changed from being afraid, to feeling invorgorated, to scared and apprehensive all within a year. We had another skate party in 6th grade. This time was different. I had developed a significant crush on an intelligent boy in my class. He took me out on the roller rink and we did a couple skate. I told him that my palms were sweaty. This is how nervous I was! He didn’t seem to notice. That skate is forever etched in my mind. The feeling of how love should be, innocent and kind and going around the circle with the one you love and want to be with. As the song ended, he asked someone else to go with him, and after that, he asked her to be his girlfriend.
And so I sit here writing this and looking back, at least I had the opportunity to experience what it was like to feel love and excitement with someone I was crushing on, even if it was just for a short period of time.
This past weekend I took my kids skating and it was amazing. They went out on the rink with me, and it was so empty, just us three for most of the time. And I saw my daughter, wobbly and afraid, holding the wall like I used to do. But she watched me, excited and alone, invigorated again as I glided fast and happy across the rink. Going around and around in circles to a new song. Confident once again.