Saturday, February 19, 2011
I’m still waiting for word from the village, to know if I can rent the house on the bluff that overlooks the sea and the mountains. What does one do to pass the time and soften the frustration? If one is me, one goes ice skating.
If I believed in reincarnation, I would swear I was a champion skater in another life. My earliest memories are of roller skating in my driveway with my neighbor friend, Brenda, and making her promise to pretend that we were ice skating. I was absolutely enchanted by it. Year after year as my birthdays rolled around, I always got to pick an activity and a friend. The friends changed as I grew older, but the activity stayed the same, “Take me ice skating”.
It was a long drive to downtown Atlanta in the days before interstates. I knew my parents hated that drive. My mother would try to talk me into putt-putt golf or some other closer birthday fun place, but I never wavered. Once a year, I was an Olympic star.
I remember the smell of The Igloo, as it was called. It started to work its magic on me as soon as I walked in the door. While spectators would see me slipping and sliding and struggling just to stay upright, in my mind I was Peggy Fleming, “taking the ice” and wowing the crowds. My mother always thought I would break something and she was right. I was breaking Olympic records with my quadruple axels and my blurry spins. I was gliding as graceful as a gazelle (aren’t they supposed to be graceful?) and blinding onlookers with my exquisite form and my flashing sequins, totally in another world.
The years passed and reality took me through college and career and marriage and children and then……at age 32 I found myself a full time mother with one child in four year old preschool and another, going to the two year old class for three hours on Tuesday mornings. Funny how I can remember these details. As soon as I dropped Thomas off, I escaped into my ice skating otherworld. I’d check the mommy self at the door and step out on the ice as the champion I knew I was meant to be. Then for two straight years, Greg would keep the kids every Monday night and I’d take lessons. We’re talking some serious mental illness now. I learned to jump and spin for real and, more impressively, I could just dance my way across the ice, allowing the fantasy to completely overtake me. It was escapism on par with Houdini.
Then full time teaching and mothering and wifing and everything else seemed to overwhelm the need, and I stopped skating. I went back once a few years ago to try it out and it wasn’t so fun. I could hardly balance myself and, like Puff the Magic Dragon, I felt the spell was broken and I just wanted to sadly slip into a cave.
Then, years later again, I find myself planning a trip to Alaska in winter. “Now I wonder what I did with my old ice skates. They must be here somewhere.” I dug them out and packed them up. And then I found a frozen pond, cleared of snow, with no one on it, underneath snowcapped mountains and a gigantic sky. I’ve been there three times now, or rather Peggy Fleming has emerged from her past, dressed in sparkles and as smooth as ever. She jumps and spins and dances her way into the hearts of all who watch. She’s a joy to behold!
“….He satisfies your desires with good things, so your youth is renewed like the eagles…”