Saturday Night Skate

Do you keep an unfulfilled desire under the heap of life that has to come first?

One of these loves will pop to the surface, just when you least expect it to appear.

When I was a kid, my parents gave me a pair of royal blue roller skates for my sixth birthday.  And because we had an unfinished basement with a cement floor, I suddenly felt like the richest girl in the world.  With the gift of those skates, I had just inherited something else: my own private skating rink.  Complete with a record player and my mother’s albums; music ranging from folksy Peter Paul and Mary and John Denver to my favorite beach album: Dead Man’s Curve by Jan and Dean.

Since our basement was not as large as a real roller rink, I was continually skating around a curve, increasing my speed till I risked crashing on my own “dead man’s curve.”  In the dim light of our basement, sheltered from the ice and snow of a Michigan winter, I rolled and sweated and took flight in my heart.

Later, the actual roller rink experience during adolescence was a bigger thrill.  Colorful lights and blasting pop tunes, cute boys and girls with feathered hair that lifted like sails on a windswept lake as they glided past me in effortless strides.

I loved to skate.

One year my father made an ice rink in the back yard.  I will remember that winter forever.  And how my brother could skate backwards and perform spins and jumps.  He was athletic and intelligent and daring.  On the ice, I felt wobbly and sore; ice skating was fun but the blades required much more balance.

I should have kept on skating when I moved out and entered college.  Why was I so easily distracted from my passion?  It must have been my desperate need to fit in.  Rollerskating seemed childish and out of fashion.  Roller blades were the popular choice, but I hated them.  Wearing a pair of those early versions of rollerblades felt like strapping on downhill ski boots and trying to move gracefully.  They hurt my feet and felt all wrong.  So I abandoned my skating and went on to parties, and guys, and later, motherhood.

For a brief time, my daughter loved skating.  On Saturday nights we would go to the rink.  It was just as I remembered it, and soon I was floating and gliding like my childhood self.  I wanted that to last.  But as time went on, she lost interest and for some reason I thought it would be awkward to go to the rink by myself.

One year I discovered that there was an adult’s night at the rink.  I went by myself.  It wasn’t as fun.  The regulars had formed a group and skate danced around the rink to form a kind of rhythm train that rushed past me.  It felt intimidating so I didn’t return.

Yesterday, on a whim, I walked into a sporting goods store and found a pair of skates in my size.  I bought them on the spot.

Last night, in the rough parking lot of the nearby elementary school, I was once again the richest girl in the world, with my own private rink.  (Until two guys showed up and let their huge Irish Setter out of the car, who immediately bounded up to me while I was relearning balance…)

But otherwise, it was blissful solitude on a humid night under a wild sky.

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