I am not Michele Kwan. Let’s just be clear about that. Hell, I’m not even one of the Peanuts Gang, who all seem to be able to glide across the ice with ever fluid, though somewhat repetitive motions. (I am, however, a far better dancer than any of their lot.)
No, rather my ice skating is as awkward and clumsy as a first date. My knees shake and swivel like a teetering toy top at the end of its run while my arms flail about in unstable gyres. There will be stops made only by the fact that there is a dependable wall - one of Gods of the ice rink that all beginners prostrate themselves on time and again - in front of me.
Yet, I never fall.
Or, well, rarely. I rarely ever fall.
Thing is for all that tottering around the ice and almost taking out a few small children who have no concept of one-way rink traffic I actually have good enough balance to keep my rubber-boned ankles vertical. I blame it on years of gymnastics in college carefully running balancing beams and flying through the air where having a firm understanding of my center of gravity meant the difference between a solid landing and dreadful tumble like a quail shot out of the sky. I can stay up and, given a few minutes to recall my younger years in the 90’s on roller blades, can eventually move with enough grace (for lack of a better word) to look like I know what I’m doing.
Frontwards and backwards, none of it becomes a problem after a good twenty minutes of finding the steels on my feet. You won’t see a lutz or spin, but you won’t see me falling face first.
So, like every year, I had arranged some time to go ice skating. Fiance’ stayed behind on account of, “I don’t want to spend an hour falling on my ass,” which meant I would go alone with my friend Mike who was better on the ice than me and eager to bundle up for a bit of weekend winter sport.
We walked many blocks from Mike's place to the rink allowing the stroll to warm us up. The air was crisper than a wafer cookie and each puff of hot breath hung long in the air like small persistent ghosts following us down the street.