With temperatures rising to bearable levels in Chiberia, I could finally engage in one of my favorite hobbies: Ice Skating. Having lived in Florida most of my life, learning to ice skate was no simple task; but I practiced enough during intermittent visits (School Field Trips) that I managed to get the basics down which means I can skate in a straight line without taking a dive. (I’m not embarrassed; some people who have lived up North their whole lives can’t even manage that much.) I have always enjoyed this once-a-year activity. So much so that my Dad bought me a pair of ice skates even though the nearest indoor rink was an hour’s drive from home.

It’s a different story, now. There’s an outdoor rink about ten minutes from my residence. Ten minutes on foot, I might add. Furthermore, I get free admission since I don’t have to rent the skates. I could finally learn to skate like a pro. Just one little problem… the weather. I don’t mind the cold that much, but a polar vortex… Forget about it! 15º F is about as low as I can handle without a parka, and I don’t like to skate looking like the Michelin Man.

2014-02-15 14.59.37Then the temperature rose to 20º F on Saturday. Hooray! I packed my skates, tugged on my nice stylish jacket, and charged out the door. Naturally, the rink shut down for cleaning just as I arrived. With nothing else to do, I retreated indoors, sat myself on a bench, and scrolled through some Facebook pages. There’s a popular site at my school where people post their crushes. In the anonymous realm of the internet, they confess their innermost feelings that they can not express to the object of their affection. Being the day after Valentine’s, the site was overrun. Some posts were obviously jokes, but others were rather sweet. I occupied the time trying to match the descriptions to classmates I know.

2014-02-15 15.25.15At 20 minutes past the hour, the gates were open again. Carefully, I tread onto the ice. Yikes! Was I wobbly! For a moment, I feared I had lost all my skill. But after a shaky spin around the rink I realized that the ice was just rougher than I was used to. Outdoor rinks, constantly exposed to the elements, tend to have that problem. The kiddies on the ice were having the time of their lives. I had to remain on guard because the little mites were tripping up all over the place, many on purpose.

At this time, a figure skater joined the surging ranks. As I watched her elegantly maneuver through the crowds, I entertained the thought that one day I too could display such skill. I turned my attention to a skill I had struggled with on my own: skating backwards. From experience turning my ankles in and out tended to start the backwards movement, but I would have to desperately clutch the wall after only a few motions. Then I tried shuffling backwards.

2014-02-15 15.32.12I imagine I must have looked rather funny, because the rink monitor slid right up to me. He was a young man with red hair and a bright red jacket. He demonstrated the beginner’s technique. Apparently, the key to skating backwards is to keep one foot steady and move the other in a c-shaped motion. We proceeded to engage in a long conversation about where I learned to skate, my hobbies, and such before he had to return to his duties. I was on my own again.

But not for long. I don’t think 5 minutes passed before the next guy noticed my efforts and offered some advice. Then the next guy showed up and even held my hands to keep balance as I practiced this new motion. You know, I’ve heard jokes that the best way to meet boys at the skating rink is to fall and act helpless. I have to say, I didn’t actually believe it. I now stand corrected. The men were only to eager to be of assistance. With their gracious help, I managed to scoot, awkwardly, on my own.

2014-02-15 15.10.16A wintry haze obscured the sun all day. Rather mournful, one could say. But I had fun, and I’m sure my smile shone a little brighter.

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