Students already speed around the skating floor by the time I make it inside. It’s been years since I’ve been in this place. When I was in middle school it was called Roller King, but now it’s Roller Skate City. New carpet and the location of the desk where they distribute skates are two noticeable differences from the place I remember. Also different is Rihanna’s voice belting “Disturbia” followed by Lady Gaga crooning “Telephone.” Last time, Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and Madonna’s “Borderline’ blared from the sound system. Life is funny. I have to laugh.
Reminiscing stops when a few of my students approach. Based on their wary glances towards me I’m sure some sixth grade drama is unfolding. “Will you skate with us?”
Boy, was I wrong. “Oh girls,” I feel the excuses begin to formulate. “I don’t know.”
“Please.” Huge toothy grins accentuated by big brown doe eyes tug on my heart.
And the war begins. Like a cartoon angel and devil battling for control of conscience, I hear two inner voices vying for attention.
My head turns towards the left where I spy a little me sitting properly on my shoulder. Hands folded neatly in lap, the proper mini-me obviously disapproves. “You can’t get on those things. It’s been more than twenty years. You’ll break your leg or your neck. You really can’t afford to miss any more work now. No, no, no. Don’t do it. What would people think?”
I’m about to apologize to my students when the voice to my right catches my attention. There, a twelve-year-old little me is sprawled on my shoulder, lacing up her skates. “Oh puleez! You were pretty good, remember? Betcha still are. If you’re scared of this, how you gonna do something you’ve never done before?” Twelve-year-old little me hops up, skates a figure eight. “You know finish that novel and send it to agents and editors. Aren’t you tired of doing what others expect you to?”
Several more students now stand before me, all with the same hopeful gaze. “We’ll get your skates for you.”
“Size 6.” I hear the words slip from my lips as the small crowd excitedly rolls away to get my wheels. Twelve-year-old little me is lost among them. Poof! Proper me is gone with a grimace that says she’s headed straight to heaven to rat me out to my grandmother.
Once the skates are on and snugly laced, my students jet off to wait for me on the smooth floor. I stand – a little wobbly. Oh, what have I gotten myself into now? It’s a struggle for balance on the first stride. The second is a little better. The feel of gliding is coming back to me now. Satisfied their teacher is true to her word, my students laugh and skate away leaving me on my own. I’m grateful.
I pick up speed and the cool breeze on my face invigorates me! Round and round I speed through the rink surprising my students, and myself, as I pass them. For a moment, I’m twelve again. There’s no mortgage, no job, no disappointments in love. It’s just me and the feeling of flying, the feeling that anything is possible. I feel revived, as if I’ve been asleep longer than Rip Van Winkle, but now I’m fully awake. Miraculously, I don’t fall and I have fun.
Maybe it’s important to listen to the twelve-year-olds in our lives, even if it’s just the twelve-year-old that still resides on the inside, and do a little roller skating. Those few moments didn’t change life’s circumstances – my book is still unfinished, I still have a mortgage to pay, I still have a job that’s a struggle to get to, I’m still alone – but I was reminded of what it’s like to fly. I was given a reminder for those times I feel sorry for myself and those moments when the excuses start coming, that nothing is impossible. Even though I run the risk of falling, it’s okay, and I might even have a little fun.