Trying Out: Skating on Thick Ice
As I alluded to before, there are plenty of holiday activities to partake in when trotting around Seattle. We may not be New York City, or a Capra-/Rockwell-esque town, but we have ice skating, darn it. Being rainy and wimpy, we keep ours indoors.
For ten months out of the year, the building acts as a rental space. The almost all-concrete room is used to hold conventions, non-profit dinners, and even a touring saint or two. Around November, they wall off a majority of the space and freeze it over. They set up hundreds of pairs of skates and, -poof-. For eight dollars, you can ice skate just like in the olden days.
Which leads me to my sordid past with ice skating. Once upon a time I was a teenager. A single teenager. A single teenager who knew a gal who suggested that her group of friends go ice skating. Just because I had never gone ice skating before; well, that was not going to stop me from partaking. If she thought ice skating was cool, then it must be. Follow your crush; that was my brilliant plan.
My brilliant plan had not included taking gloves with me. I think my mom had suggested I take extra socks. Voila; toss some clean socks over your hands and you have gloves. Hope that the cute girl is not weirded out. Belongings stashed, friends in a cheery mood; time to see if I could skate.
I. Could. Not.
It was rather pathetic. The wall and I became fast friends. I saw no reason to break up our relationship. The wall was there for me. The wall supported me when the cold, cruel ice threatened to break my nose or bruise my knees. The wall was not deceitful. The wall was strong and understanding. While my so-called friends were skating in circles, enjoying themselves, the wall and I were coming to a true understanding of each other. Why should the wall and I break up to join you? You come join the wall and me! We know what real fun is.
I do not think that I ever face-planted. I tried to skate. I ventured away from the ice. I slipped. I fumbled. It would have been fine if the cute gal had come beside me, tucked her arm around me, and skated with me. She did not. “Keep trying” I was told.
And then, out of nowhere, I was all alone. The ice had cleared off. I looked around. Everybody was skating to the other side of the rink. I was on the opposite side. The only thing coming towards me? The Zamboni.
I tried to skate. I failed. I tried to use the wall, but I was too far from the exit. After what felt like forever, a staff member skated over and led me away. Embarrassed, defeated, and annoyed, I was led back to solid (and non-slippery) ground, socks still on my hands.
Now, being an adult of some means and stubbornness, I wanted payback. Having looked failure in the face before, I was determined to win. I wanted to actually skate. If failure showed up again, I would punch it in the face. And this time, I was bringing gloves.
Some elements were the same. I asked a cute female friend to tag along. She brought her husband with her, so there was much less pressure to impress anyone than last time.
She claimed she was terrible at ice skating. However, she hails from the east coast, so she was certainly better than I. Yeah, we see you ice skating backwards. Terrible at ice skating. Sure.
I also found out why my mom had suggested I take extra socks all those years ago. Rental skates are a little floppy. The learning to skate process involves having your ankles shimmy and shift from side to side. I was happy to be wearing thick socks that took the brunt. The husband and his feet did not fare so well. He excused himself, not having teenage trauma to overcome. (Not this time at least. We all have teenage trauma. I blame hormones.)
The first ten minutes, I reacquainted myself with the wall. The wall had not betrayed me last time, not like my fair-weather friends had! The wall got it.
Eventually, I weaned myself off of that overly-dependent relationship. I had come to skate. I was going to actually skate; not go through the pee-wee version.
The ice was slippery. (Shocker.) The skates were wobbly. My friend showed me up with minimal effort. I still had fun. Right at 4:30 they shifted into evening mode and turned down the lights, putting everything into a wintry, blue-white mode.
What really helped were the crowds. There was no pressure to go fast when you knew that you might have to stop or veer around a four year-old in front of you. When I looked up, I sometimes saw someone close to my age doing just as terribly as I was. I even had the leisure to learn some new things about my friend and her spouse. Then she went back to skating like a champ. Show-off.
I got better. My determination paid off. I could stand on my own two feet. I did not face plant. I improved. I still could not stop with anything approaching grace. (shrug) I learned. I became more coordinated. And that was what I was after.
It would take a few more sessions for me to say that I officially skated. I have plenty to learn. (My friend discovered this when we both tried to exit the rink. I found myself grabbing her unexpectedly as we both almost-tumbled. We survived.) I would happily give it another go. For the time being, I was glad to visit with a friend. And I escaped Zamboni-free. “Goal!”, as the hockey players say.