When I stood up after a one-hour meeting this morning, my hips popped and cracked so loudly that my coworker and I had to laugh about it. But I’ll take the creaking bones and sore muscles in exchange for the two hours of roller skating joy I felt yesterday afternoon. Those sounds were just one more reminder that these hips will never be 15 years old again. For that, I am grateful.
Back in middle and high school, roller skating was a thing. It was The Eighties, so we skated in Gloria Vanderbilt jeans with a plastic comb sticking out of the back pocket, sequined leg warmers twinkling in the disco lights. On a Friday night at the Skate Inn, the air hung thick with Aqua Net, Love’s Baby Soft and Polo. I didn’t live close enough to The Big City to get to go skating every weekend–only about 3-4 times a year for birthday parties and such–so I never got really good at it. Not like Amy Sarsfield, who had her own white skates with yarn pompoms tied into the laces. She could skate backwards. When it was time for Couples’ Skate, she and her boyfriend slipped around the oval in a waltz, not just holding hands and tottering along side by side.
In those days, my main concern while skating was looking cool…which didn’t simply mean staying upright. I had to fight gravity and inertia, keep my hair combed, bounce in time to “Freak Out” by Chic, look around for my friends and any cute boys without looking like I was looking around. My hips were busy keeping me looking cool while all of that was going on. Because skating for me was all in the hips. Maybe my legs were too long or my center of gravity was too high or the legs of my Gloria Vanderbilts were too tight to allow the right movement, but I never felt safe and graceful while up on skates. Some primordial fear of falling kept me from completely lifting my feet off the rink surface to push. And don’t even try to do that crossover step on the corners! So I wiggled and glided and slammed into the carpeted wall to stop (ever so gracefully). If I really lost momentum in the middle of “Brick House,” I might summon the courage to lift my left foot an inch and give a push/wobble/recover but every one of them made my breath catch in my throat. My whole body vibrated with teenage tension, waiting for the BOOM!
Well. That was thirty years ago. After a looooooong hiatus (um, 30 years), I’ve been roller skating three times in the last month! Vivi likes to go and I like to take her on any and all adventures…and if you’re going to the skating rink with a six year old, you’re gonna skate. This is not the kind of coaching you can do from a distance.
Each time we go, we get a little more comfortable. Vivi falls fearlessly and often, like a game of Pick Up Sticks. She’s tall for her age so she resembles a rolling flamingo sporting a look of dogged determination. I look more like a turkey leg from the Renn Faire, up on skates. At least my jeans these days have a little more give to them, so there is some blood getting to my feet.
My hips are faaaaaar more experienced at 45. They’re wider, but wiser. As I was gliding around the rink yesterday, smiling openly at the middle aged men hot-dogging around, I thought about that 15 yr old girl I once was and it hit me–I’m not the woman I used to be. And that’s a good thing.
I’m not that girl anymore. I’m three times older than she was. My hips know how to shift weight from balancing a baby. My toes know how to press for a corner because I learned that snowboarding in Utah–heel side J’s and toe side J’s. The gliding along, moving weight from side to side, well that’s like skiing. I still look around, but now it’s to find my kid and give her a wave. I still can’t lift my feet all the way off the floor for fear of toppling over. But I can still feel the music in my hips and I don’t care if I look goofy as I bounce along. Especially if it’s the Harlem Shake or the Cupid Shuffle. That stuff’s right up there with the Commodores.
Skating still makes me wobble, but it’s FUN.
It’s one of those things I would have denied myself if I had spent too long thinking about it. I can’t go roller skating because I’m too old, too fat, too clumsy, too tired, too fragile, too impatient…too afraid. But when you’re the mom of a girl and you never want to hear her say that she’s too clumsy or fat or fragile to try something fun, you have to shut up, lace up, and show her how we roll.