I don’t know how to skate. As a kid, my ankles just kept flopping over. I was scared to fall. I was scared to look stupid, which I guess I did. Come to think of it, I was scared about most things. But I turned out okay.
Last night was New Year’s Eve and I didn’t know what to do. My massage therapist told me that there was some sort of family festival happening in the early evening in Aylmer so I decided to go.
It was a short drive to the East Elgin Community Complex and I was greeted by a packed parking lot. Lots of folks were heading to the entrance with ice skates over their shoulder. Somehow I forgot mine.
Inside, the lobby was overflowing with festive types young and old, with the pull of the crowd leading to the skating rink. I got myself a coffee and climbed the stairs to the upper level. Below me were a hundred skaters looping around the ice surface. I looked … and I marvelled.
And there I was, in teenaged female form. The young lady was walking unsurely on her skates, with none of that graceful pushing off motion to the sides. She jerked when gravity threatened to take over. The fear shot through her body. For several laps, she skated alone. But then an older gent, perhaps her father, came alongside. They talked and smiled. And my unknown friend kept going, undeterred by the graceful forms flowing by her. Good for you.
The music of Abba was flooding the scene:
Chiquitita, you and I know
How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they’re leaving
You’ll be dancing once again and the pain will end
And on the world glided.
A young mom pushed her son in a wheelchair. He was laughing every time around
Two ten-year-old girls skated unsteadily together, holding hands and sharing the latest news
A six-year-old boy burst past the slow ones in a flurry of speed and skill
A teenaged fellow tried to look cool as he moseyed along, hands in his pockets
A girl practiced her figure skating, shifting suddenly from one foot to the other, and then took a lap moving backwards
Parents on the boards smiled at their kids and shared the video they’d just taken
And a guy sitting in the balcony took it all in