Saturday, July 23, 2011

Maple Stirrup

I was given my first pair of roller skates when I was 4 or 5. They were white faux leather with pink straps, pink wheels, and a small photo of Barbie on the side. My parents bought them for me for my birthday, I believe - I adored them.

I remember wearing them around the house, scuffing up the linoleum in the kitchen as my unsure feet found their way into a gliding rhythm. When I could finally stand on my own in my skates, my Nana took me to the skating rink each Saturday morning. Before we left in the mornings, she would make me creamed egg sandwiches with extra pepper, stating that eggs would make me strong. We would listen to Neil Diamond on our way to the rink.

Sweet caroling, bah bah bahhhh.
Good times never seemed so good, so good so good so good.

The rink was always cold and Nana always brought us sweatshirts - Kansas City Chiefs for Nana, Kansas City Chiefs for me. She would sit cross legged on the floor and gently put my small feet into my Barbie skates and then lace up her skates, pulling her pants over the tops of the boots. Skating on the carpet was always easier than skating in the rink so she always held my hand for the first few laps around the rink, letting me decide when to let go.

We skated from 9-11am, forever in a child's eyes. We skated because Nana loved to skate. I skated because I wanted to be with my Nana.

I don't remember when we stopped going skating together exactly. I'm sure it was a result of a multitude of factors: my parents got divorced, Nana lost her leg above the knee, I started growing up. I just remember one day realizing that skating wasn't a part of my life anymore and being sad.

By the time I had this realization I was 11 and no one really roller skated anymore - it was all about in-line skating, roller blading, and I had moved to a city where skate night happened on Friday nights. Friday nights full of teenagers and testosterone. I hated renting skates just to hang out with my friends and begged for a pair of roller blades. I never got pink Barbie roller blades. Instead, my mom bought me a pair of black and blue blades that I would take to Great Skate every Friday night to line my wrists with glow bracelets and hope for a shot at couple skating with the cutest boy there. I skated because everyone else was. I skated to be closer to cute boys, and when I turned 12 I had a skating birthday party. But fate had the greatest irony planned for my 12th birthday: I dislocated my knee playing volleyball in P.E. just two days before my already booked party. I would have to sit out on the bleachers as I watched everyone at my birthday party skate around the rink. I watched as my best friend at the time, got to couple skate with the boy of my young dreams.

I stopped skating after that.

Up until two weeks ago, it had been nearly 12 years since the last time I skated. I hadn't even stepped foot into a rink. Not because it brought back bad memories, but it was more like I didn't care, didn't have a passion or a reason to do it again. I had graduated college, gotten married, and worked full time, but didn't have a hobby of any kind. After a few friendly conversations with a co-worker and a good friend from high school, I decided I would try skating again. I gathered up a friend to skate with me and brought along my husband and a few other friends to act as a support system, and I skated for the first time in 12 years - at a local all women's roller derby rookie practice.

I sweat for what seemed like hours as we did endurance laps around the rink, practiced safe falling and stopping, but no matter how many times I hit my knees or banged my elbow, I kept going back for more. The adrenaline high after practice was unlike anything I had ever felt. I couldn't sleep though it was midnight, all I could think about was skating. I had my first taste of roller derby and I had an insatiable appetite for more. I went to open skate. I met more people. I studied tutorials of juking and blocking and bouts of competitor teams. I learned about outdoor skates and rules and regulations. I couldn't get enough.

My family and close friends say I'm too frail for roller derby - Bird Bones as Joseph calls me. I say they're wrong. For the first time in my life, I want to skate for me. I am skating to remind me of my Nana, to remind me of my youth, but most of all I'm skating to discover who I am. I don't want to get all philosophical or cliche about it, but I feel more comfortable in a derby skin than I have anywhere else in a long time. I feel like I fit in and that I can be good at something other than academics. I get to be a banker by day and a fierce derby girl by night.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

For being a writer, I'm pretty terrible about keeping up a blog. I scribble notes into the margins of my planner and onto receipts found in the depths of my purse – but cannot seem to translate these spur of the moment thoughts, feelings, hopes, desires, etc into blogging. I swear, I do write – quite a bit actually, but most of the time no one gets to read it. I keep my little notes of frivolous diction tucked away, usually throwing them away, haphazardly, with old grocery lists and gum wrappers. A bit of a waste I suppose.


Cliffnoted version of my life for the past two months:



After 5 years and $60,000 + in student loan debt, I finally graduated from a major university. I entered into the ranks of those who hold a college degree but are employed in a field totally different than their specialty area. I opted to switch into a full-time position at the bank I work at as a consumer banking representative – a.k.a.: totally not using my English and publishing degree in the manner in which I obtained it. I guess the first strike against my future was choosing such an ambiguous degree area like English. "What are you going to do with that? Be a teacher?" – I've been asked many times. I always respond with "No." with a tinge of uncertainty in my voice.  I mean, I love teachers, I really do. Half of my in-laws (teaser for the next section!!) are teachers and they're fabulous at what they do, but I don't think that I could have that kind of job every day.


So, no, I will not be employed as a teacher in my immediate future. I will remain employed at the bank which has paid my bills and provided so many friendships for the past three years, until something fabulous and life-changing opens up for me. My options are open and my passion is bountiful.



Remember that time Joseph and I got married in June 2011? I do – it was awesome. We were married on a hot Sunday, Father's Day actually (it was much cheaper that way). I wore a pretty dress and hot pink shoes and carried a bouquet that my mother made, wrapped in lace with trinkets from my grandmother and great grandmother adorning the lace covered stems. I had the most important people in my life all under one roof, celebrating with us. My best friend stood right behind me, holding my bouquet and straightening my train. Later, she sang along to the tinkering guitar melodies of a wonderful musician and even better friend, as we served communion to our friends and family. The most wonderful fuzzy man I have ever met stood in front of me, reading me his vows from a post-it note – quoting "Star Wars" of all things.


We drank PBR and cheap wine, ate homemade pulled pork and baked beans, sang along to indie renditions of Miley Cyrus' "See You Again" and Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline". Our entire wedding party and friends intermingled in a dramatic fashion while singing along to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Joseph danced with his mother – her Bugger Bear had grown up. I danced with my father – it was better than any 'Daddy Daughter Dance Night" that we could've gone to in elementary school. We remembered those we had lost and celebrated with those we still had. We left as husband and wife.

People ask me what married life is like and I don't quite know how to answer that. It's as if nothing has changed but at the same time, everything has changed. Joseph and I found out two years ago what it was like to live with the person you love, so the post-wedding cohabiting wasn't a fear for us.  My initials didn't even change, ANW to ANW. I did, however, lose 5 letters from the entirety of my name – less work for me!  But even with all these simple non-changes, everything felt differently. Suddenly, if we fought, it felt like there was more to fight for, more to save. The stakes were higher. We were legally and spiritually bound to one another. It was such a big moment when I realized that I was no longer a single lady in the eyes of the law. I had a husband now.


What does a feminist do when she gets married?

If she's anything like me she would cook whatever she wanted, try new hair colors and styles, work 40 hours a week, try new beers and wines, love her herself regardless of any honeymoon weight gained, love her husband something fierce, and – join the local roller derby team.


More on that later.