Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don't It Always Seem To Go...

When I was in middle school, two of the girls in the carpool were taking figure skating lessons. My neighbor DeeKay was one, and the girl who'd been our hook-up for the carpool in the first place was the other. Skating lessons were on Wednesdays, and I think DeeKay's mom may have been the Wednesday driver. We all went to what we called "Skates" on 48th Avenue.

DeeKay and the other girl owned their own ice skates, shiny white and with blade protectors. The rest of us rented ours, brown with the shoe size printed on the back of the heel. The ice rink smelled like the inside of a freezer, and the oval-shaped rink had a mural of people skating on a frozen pond with snow on the evergreens around it. There was a wooden fence along the high side to keep people from falling onto the rink when they walked into the building, and along the right side was the enclosed snack bar, which smelled like what a freezer would smell like if you'd left a few cups of hot chocolate in there. We bought Nestle Crunch candy bars and played Space Invaders there.

DeeKay's lesson was in the middle of the rink and I watched her skate backwards and try an axel or a camel spin. All I knew how to do was skate forward, and I did that, as fast as I could. As I sped, crouched, along the outside of the rink I imagined myself to be Eric Heiden, who won five gold medals and set Olympic and world records in all of the speed-skating events.

We didn't just go after school for DeeKay's lessons. I remember going there with the kids from the neighborhood (as opposed to the carpool kids), and DeeKay had one if not two birthday parties there. When he was eight or nine, No broke his thumb there when a man skating backwards crashed into him. After Ryebread moved to Washington State and then moved back, sometime during my senior year of high school, a group of us wound up ice skating. I remember feeling really happy because it was so simple and didn't involve trying to drink beer.

They tore down the ice rink while I was in the Northwest and built townhouses or condos on the property. I'm still sad that the old rink, which was admittedly small and in an old rickety building, is gone. I have spent much more time on dance floors than on ice, but I would love to smell that ice-and-chocolate smell and wear those heavy boots again, and take another Eric Heiden spin around the rink.

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