I went roller skating last night. It was probably 6th grade, which was 25 years and 150 lbs ago, that I last roller skated. I had taken skating lessons in Ponca City, and loved it. I could skate backwards, go in circles, and I had my own roller skates. I also had street skates so I could skate in my neighborhood. I spent my Saturdays at the skating rink. I would go to a lesson, order a mini pizza (mmm, grease) and a huge pickle, and skate until it was time to leave. I remember the way my feet felt when I put my tennis shoes on after a few hours of skating. The comfort was wonderful.
Recently, a coworker and I had been discussing our old roller dreams. I was then invited to go skating with my friend Darren and I pounced on it. He told me it’s hilarious and will give me flashbacks.
Last night, I walked into Skateland, overwhelmed by the smell of stinky shoes and sweat. It was adults only night, and cheap entertainment. I selected a pair of brown, skanky, skates from their wall of rentals and laced them up (and praying they put some Lysol in each pair). I realized that the place looked much as it did many, many, many years ago. I wonder if they have cleaned the carpets since then . . . . .
As soon as I stood in my skates, I realized – I’m not 11 anymore! Keeping my balance was tough. My anxieties overwhelmed me, but I was determined to persevere. So before I began to skate, I took in the view. Most patrons brought their own skates. You could see them adjusting the wheels before they put them on. The music was from the 80’s. All ages were there, with the typical male tricksters in the middle showing off their skating skills: jumps, splits, break dancing on skates. They would chat with each other, and then continue with the same tricks over and over and over again. I wondered if any of those men had ever been on a date………
People were skating and grooving to the music at the same time. These people were regulars, and they didn’t fit into a specific social class. They were all ages, all sizes, and all colors. After an hour of skating, one gentleman retired to a seat and hooked oxygen up to his nose before taking to the rink again. That’s what I call determination!
It took me an hour to be able to skate without holding onto the side, without worrying that the faster folks would trip me up, and without zoning into my own world of “don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall!”. Darren tried to goad me on, and I snapped, “Fat girls fall hard!” But I kept trying, as the sweat poured down my face. Immediately my feet ached. Flat feet and crappy skates don’t mix. Then my quads ached. Then, my back ached exponentially more than I have ever known it to hurt.
In the end, I was able to skate without holding on, was able to let go of the fear that someone would run me over. I never fell down! But a big inspiration was an older gentleman. He hadn’t been skating in 60 years. If he could do it, so could I! So he and I slowly found our balance, our courage, and our old skating groove.
Would I do it again? Absolutely!