Open Skate!


The mind is interesting.  Some remember details and others can’t tap into them at all.  Memory is quite interesting.  My earliest memory goes back to 4 years old.  I was sitting out on the front steps of our apartment. I remember others being there and my Father coming up with a bag.  He asked me if I could guess what was in it and I said “Roller Skates!”


I was correct.   It was the 70’s and skating was big.  I have a picture I love of my sister and myself and although you can’t see it, we were on those first skates trying to embrace and not fall.  We would get skating clothes and shirts that said “Kids that skate need love too!”.


We were a ‘skating family’.   We moved from those training wheels to making our own skates with faster ball wheels made for outside along with stylist tennis shoes.  I started out skating outside,often following my Father to work or on Sundays we would skate up to Giffords in Silver Spring for fun.   My Father used to take the metro to his office and get off may stops away and skate the rest.  There he would be in his suit and skating to and from work.  He was in a few Washington Post articles talking about this “skater” to work.  Seems odd now that this was unusual considering today many use different equipment to get to work, but it was unique then.


I eventually moved from skating outside to the roller rink.  My Dad hated the rink; just one big circle he felt and would rather be outside.  Yet he would take us on Thursday nights to Congressional Rink – now a big strip mall in Rockville.  I can still see and smell the rink.  It was an old time rink with black bars, lots of overhead lights and a record booth to play songs.  On the old wooden floor were patterns if you were learning practicing formal styles; such as a figure 8 on the floor – point was to push off on one foot hold and then as it changed you went to the other.  Some learned to do this with couples and it looked like a waltz.


Eventually moving into the 80’s and turning into a young woman, I needed something much more up to date.  I discovered ‘Wheel-A-While’ which had cool rock & disco music, smoother wooden floor, colorful disco lights, seats covered in carpet, no metal bars and if you weren’t skating tons of video games to play.  If you were lucky, some cute unknown boy would ask you to couples skate.


Funny thing with the memory I can’t remember when I stopped skating.  I remember getting ready to go to the rink with my girlfriends in high school.  Before we went we had to get ready.  There with Brian Adams songs we would take our jeans and make them even tighter around the ankle.  There we were cutting up our expensive $30 jeans and sliding them on just like a pair of tights.  That was the style to have them tapered it the ankle and then ware a big over-sized shirt with shoulder pads.  One big V shape – oh so stylish then!


My last pair of skates I made I wanted to revert to the traditional white boot and indoor hard wheels.   I still have them and I remember going back to the rink in my late 20’s and seeing that I could still do it!


Now in my 40’s I feel like it was just yesterday.  I saw some girls just the other day using  their rollerblades and it took me back to the day I was learning to balance.  I started with my skates balancing on the grass; allowing myself to feel it within.  Even when I was in the hospital earlier this year and I had to start over walking, balancing and I used the wall, chairs and floor to help me.  The Therapist observed that within a few baby steps my mind was connecting to the body.  There trying to balance on my feet or knees all over again.   I knew immediately it was better to go about it this way than try again and again with failure.  I had to calm down, feel it and observe.  Arm balances, something I have always enjoyed is still tough but it is coming back.


Thinking of it now though, maybe my mind was also taping into a memory I didn’t know about at all… tapping into that same feeling at 4 years old of balancing on skates.  You are never too old to learn or re-learn!

Yoga being very popular right now will change I’m sure over the next few years.  Just as skating was big in the 70’s and early 80’s it moved on, got smaller and transformed to rollerblades.    Yet it had been around a long time before.  Yoga has as well yet many are treating it as pure exercise so it is very much a big trend.  As our human nature we don’t balance things, even those good things for us we tend to overdo;.  food, songs , clothes and even yoga poses.   Soon I suspect there will be a yoga studio across from a yoga studio… just like Starbucks.

Yoga is always changing and I believe that if you don’t worry about the external changes, you’ll be fine.  Indra Mohan who I met last month has been practicing a long time.  Today she does more one on one classes.  It takes discipline to stay with what you believe in and even with society all around you reacting in fear, you keep it simple and stand still.  Balance.