Wednesday Wellness: Roller-Skating Backwards

Happy Wednesday, Friends! I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays because I noticed a lot of my writer friends and creative types struggle with wellness and balance, as do I.

It may seem strange that my topic today is roller skating. When I was a kid, we roller skated all the time. It was the 80’s and roller skating was all the rage- remember Xanadu? We thought we were oh so cool, skating fast and doing “cross-overs” round the edges of the rink. We would watch in awe as the “Rexxers” did their dance steps and jumps, and we would try to do the same (well- not the jumps!). I remember doing the two step move with my sister, and to this day certain songs on the radio will just take me back. You know what I mean. Sometimes I close my eyes and just imagine skating backwards, and the tension in my shoulders just melts.

Fast forward thirty-five years later (OMG) and now we are heading to the very same roller rink with our kids. We are all so excited! I guess I have talked about roller-skating a lot with my kids. I took them once, two summers ago, and I had to teach them how to skate. Fortunately this rink now offers “skate-mates” which are two layers of PVC tubes in a V-formation with wheels on the bottom. So I could attend to one child whilst the other ventured out with the skate-mate. Clever invention, really. I didn’t really have the opportunity to skate fast on my own, as I was always helping.

The morning of the skating party, my young daughter asked me if I knew any skating tricks. I laughed out loud. “ I did, Honey, but I sure don’t think I could do them today!” She said, well, maybe you could just describe them to me, Mommy, or show me here. “Okay, honey, I said, well there’s this one called ‘Shoot the Duck.’ “ And her eyes brightened. Like I am her superhero. So I tried showing her right there, in the kitchen. “You squat like this, and then you kick one skate out in front of you.” And I fell on my butt. Yikes. MODED!

This time, both of my kids could manage pretty well, especially along the purple walls of the rink. So I tried to skate fast. I’m thirty-five years older and like a hundred pounds heavier. And I have anxiety and responsibility. I certainly do not want to be nursing any broken bones. I. Have. Fear. And I can’t seem to lift my feet to skate properly. I can do slow movements, even turns. I can skate backwards, making figure-eights, the kind where you don’t lift your feet and go very, very slowly. Finally, Coldplay comes on and I am inspired to actually skate fast down the lengths of the rink. But I am not confident enough to lift my skates and do “cross-overs” at the edges, so I slow my speed and just coast, like a skier, with my feet planted firmly, a little upper body lean towards the left (since we are skating in the counter-clockwise direction). I want to pick up speed at the length again, my brother-in-law is giving me a thumbs up, but I am TIRED. Seriously, I can’t even skate fast for half a song? Suddenly my feet lock and so I start to lose my balance, teetering dangerously forward and then backwards awkwardly. I’ve somehow contracted my core, whilst flailing my arms. Miraculously, I right myself and I am humbled. I hear my brother-in-law say “Nice catch!” as he zooms past, and an older roller-skating staff member offers some tips. But I am not listening to him. I’m done. I can’t wait to get off and drown in my diet soda.

Soon the DJ is playing the timeless Journey classic: “Don’t Stop Believin’” but I am not getting up to skate. I will not return to the rink this day. I think it has only been about an hour. I can hardly believe we used to do Crazy Trio’s and Shoot the Duck Wars, in back-to-back sessions. (Nowadays in California it is $18 per person for one session and skate rental, plus another $5 if you want to check out a skate-mate.)

I think I’ll go back to just pretending that I am roller-skating backwards just before I go to sleep. Try it. I close my eyes and I feel thirty-five years younger, skating my cares away as I (mentally) look over my right shoulder, knowing, that there is nothing in my way.



8 thoughts on “Wednesday Wellness: Roller-Skating Backwards

  1. I relate to this on so many levels. I remember how much I loved roller-skating as a kid – though on the tarmac in the streets around our house rather than on a skating rink. I used to do the “Shoot the Duck” move at one time too, though I’m pretty sure even managing to roller-skate at all would be a huge achievement for me now – never mind fast and/or backwards as you seem to have managed! I also relate to what you say about fear, and how the added sense of responsibility – not just the years – locks it in. So glad you were able to sail through your fears in such triumphant style. I may just have to find a pair of roller-skates and do the same!

  2. I adore skating – I used to ice skate in Central Park every day after school – how sweet is that? Actually – you are on to something – rehearse the moves in your mind’s eye and for sure that will help retrain your body – top athletes do this all the time. You got this, Denise – shoot the duck (I never thought I’d hear myself saying those words – lol!) xo

  3. Ha ha! I LOVED roller skating as a kid. I had a pair that I would wear with my rainbow suspenders (the old-fashioned kind that hold up your pants, not the other ones), which I thought were the best thing in the world. Round and round on the rink, shooting the duck, taking those corners like a pro. Thanks for the happy memories 🙂 I might need to try it again.

    • Isn’t it great to remember our happy skating memories? What were some of your favorite songs to skate to?

  4. Growing up we walked for miles every Saturday to our roller ring. The highlight of our teen years. I loved it & hadnt thought about it again until now. Except that time when we took our kids to a roller rink, my ankles wobbled, legs wouldn’t stand upright & I quickly decided the past was in the past. My kids didn’t love it & I knew we weren’t going again, so why bother.
    I never knew why I couldn’t skate as an adult but had so many other things to be concerned with, I dismissed it. Until now.
    I think I didn’t want to be a toddler again & go thru trial & effort to learn something that was once was easy & beautiful & now challenging. Watching roller derby was sufficient.
    Thanks for my trip down memory lane. The best is remembering how much fun it was, how much I loved roller skating. I was good at it & it felt freeing. Flying in the wind and to music.

  5. A great feeling- flying in the wind. Not so much when I was thinking, “I can’t fall because then I might break bones, and then I wouldn’t be able to drive my kids to their two different schools and myself to work…”

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