It’s been years since you last went. Years. When your friends challenged you to go, you kind of wanted to but at the same time, you kind of hoped they’d forget. You remembered liking it once, but you also remembered the instability and the fear of falling. You were seriously worried about making a fool of yourself.
When you get there, you find little has changed, except for the equipment. Technology has shifted from the classic lace-ups of Torvill and Dean to an efficient and streamlined clip-strap snow boot that gives an inaccurate sense of proficiency.
You and your friends are the first to arrive, and you’re relieved because you had strong visions of clutching at the support rail with the seven-year-olds. But you are clutching at the support rail. Dragging yourself along the perimeter desperately trying to keep up with your friends who’ve done this a little more recently. They’re already gliding freestyle.
You reach the part that has no support rail. It’s not that wide, but it makes you hesitate. Someone says you have to believe you won’t fall. And you push off and glide. It’s not elegant or convincing but you arrive at the other side slightly thrilled you’re still upright.
Fifth time around and sometimes you’re not using the rail, you sometimes manage to propel yourself forward and trust yourself to take a few steps. You’re glad. The seven-year-olds arrive and you’re able to move around them with a degree of confidence. Soon you are free of the rail. You do a whole lap, then another. A professional arrives and skirts around you while you skirt around the seven-year-olds, putting your skill level into complete perspective. Occasionally you wobble. Sometimes there’s that moment of flailing panic and you inch back towards the safety barrier.
An hour passes and you really start to enjoy it, but a friend takes a tumble and you realise it could have easily been you. Confidence brings risk taking, and success and sometimes failure. You start bopping to the background music and you forget where you’re at. Wobble. Yikes. Near miss.
On the other side of the evening there’s a sense of elation. You leave with your head high, keen to do it again. You look forward to learning how to stop without hitting a wall. In the back of your mind you wonder how quickly you’ll pick it up next time. You wonder if you’ll fall. How easy is it to get up from a ostensibly frictionless surface? Will you need to drag yourself across the icy screed back to the support rail?
Next time you might try skating backwards. You jokingly think you should have mastered that first*.
And then you wonder if this post is actually about ice skating.
*Refers to this post.