Tuesday, December 3, 2013

An Exscursion on Skates


(Pinata hoping no one will notice him, somewhere yellow and blue in the country, sunset silhouettes, purple flowers like exploding planets)


   This weekend I went ice skating for the first time since eighth grade! Ice skating seemed like a seasonally appropriate thing to do. So David and I headed to a rink North on Aurora, strapped on some skates, and attempted to conquer the ice! Or at least conquer our novice clumsiness on the ice. When we first got into the rink, we clung nervously to the rail while children and the elderly zoomed past us with grace and ease. But we were only on the ice for about thirty seconds before a voice on the loud speaker commanded all to leave the ice so the Zamboni could smooth it out again. Everyone huddled around the exit areas and slowly left the ice. I decided that since I had gone to the trouble of getting onto the ice, I would try at least a little bit of non-rail-clinging skating. I pushed myself away from the wall and shakily slid across the ice, free as a bird! But I found myself zooming toward two teenage girls patiently waiting their turn to leave the rink, and this is when I realized I had no idea how to break! Luckily, no one else seemed aware of my near mishap. At the last moment,  I swerved around the innocent bystanders and back toward the sweet, sweet safety of the wall.
   All of us eager ice skaters had to wait on benches away from the rink as the Zamboni moved like a sleepy sloth across the rink, slowly turning the scratched ice glossy again. We sat on the bench across from a stoic young man who looked off into the distance, deep in thought, while David and I chit-chatted with each other near by. I figured that this man must be pretty good. Most of the time when people go ice-skating, it is a social event. So a lone skater is much more likely to be the type of person that has a real passion for the sport! Sure enough, when I saw him back on the ice, he was skating with grace and confidence. My guess is that he is a future hockey superstar. I pegged him as a future hockey star rather then future figure skating star because I didn't seem him practice any tricks. It was all straight forward skating for this fellow. Maybe in ten years I will be watching hockey (even though watching hockey is not something I regularly do, but in this future scenario, I will be watching hockey for some reason) and I will see a player who looks oddly familiar but I won't be able to remember why. But it will be the lone ice skater from this weekend, finally living his dream as a pro-hockey player.
  Once I was back on the ice, there was more wall clinging, but my desire for a thrill compelled me to push off the wall and again venture forth. Pretty soon both David and I were skating around the rink with no worries of falling. That is, until I fell. Before falling, my worst fear was that it would be difficult to get back up again. I imagined trying to boost myself up, but it being too slippery to do so. In my worst imaginings, I would be forced to half-crawl, half-slither on my belly toward the wall where I would finally be able to grasp onto something that would help me to my feet again. But actually, getting back up again is really simple. I almost felt like I bounced up like a kangaroo. Once I was up, I brushed ice of my pants and continued skating. But my fall had not gone unnoticed. A man glided toward me like a graceful swan and jovially said "If you tighten your laces, you will have an easier time of it!" I was very grateful for his advice and thanked him. My feet and ankles were really hurting, so I was hoping this 'easier time' would include an easier time for my poor, pain ridden feet! The helpful skater then said 'Also, if you keep your arms lowered as your skate, it will be easier. It is like you are a tree and your arms are high branches in the wind. A tree is more likely to collapse in the wind if it has high branches." I liked the idea of resembling an ice skating tree in the wind, but I liked the idea of not falling even more! After my next thank you, he glided off like the graceful swan he was! I have a feeling that in ten years when I remember this, in my memory the ice skater will do a twirl before leaving. For some reason, I feel like he should have done a twirl after giving me advice. Although, I shouldn't be too demanding of this man, especially since his advice really worked. After I tightened my skates, I noticed an immediate improvement in my ability.
  With my new found confidence, I had a new found need for speed! I zoomed across the ice, darting past slower skaters who probably use to consider me the slower skater. It was exhilarating! But my cockiness is what led to my downfall, literally. I again found my self plummeting toward the ice, but for an entirely different reason. I was attempting to skate over my skill level. It is probably good I fell when I did though. What if I had gotten so carried away that I attempted a triple-axle?  But after my second fall, I had no more collisions with the ice. However, I did have many near collisions with little children. Or at least it felt this way. There were many children on the ice, most of them skating like graceful butterflies. But children often have less awareness of their surroundings than the average adult. So these graceful children would very suddenly dart in front of me, causing me a great scare! Worse then slithering to a wall on my stomach after falling, would be to fall on a little child! Even though I am fairly short, I am much larger then these little kids! In retrospect though,  these children and I probably were not as close to collision as it seemed through my novice eyes.
  By the end of our time at the rink, I was skating without falling, but David was doing better then that. He had learned to skate backwards and he learned to do a twirl! Ice-skating was a lot of fun and I hope that I don't wait so long to do it again. Even though it had been quite long since I ice-skated, I have done another sort of skating in my more recent past: roller skating! I quite enjoyed roller skating in college. I mostly liked roller skating due to it's kitchyness though. I certainly was not attracted to it as a practical means of transportation, especially since the college I went to was playfully referred to as 'Hills and Stairs University.' But I did have one other friend who roller skated. There was a particularly smooth and flat parking lot in front of one of the health food stores which was a prime roller skating spot. So my friend and I went there in our skates and rolled about. We were not the only roller skaters who knew about this parking lot, because one day, we met another roller skater! First we heard the familiar clatter of roller skates against pavement. Then, from behind us, the skater glided into view! He was a man in his thirties or forties (we were in our early twenties at the time, so thirties and forties seemed like the same thing). He had a long brown pony tail and skates with orange wheels. I have him in my memory wearing short-shorts, but this may be something I added on later. With a graceful pivot of his legs, he swirled around on his skates and started skating backwards so he could talk to us. He asked us about what type of wheels we had on our skates but neither of us knew. He gave us advice on what type of wheels we should buy in order to have the best roller skating experience, then he turned back around and roller skated away, into the sunset. As he skated away, my friend said 'We've met our roller skating guru." And forever after, we thought of him as the roller skating guru. I wonder what he is doing now! I hope he is still roller skating, conquering the hills and the stairs one roll at a time.


(Dragonfly, branch reaching toward the sun, yellow flowers like wishing stars, crab.)

3 comments :

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I totally want to go ice skating soon!!

Autumn Elixe said...

Delightful!

Amber said...

You should do it Keith!
Thanks Autumn!