Thursday, May 03, 2012In case you somehow haven't heard me blabbing incessantly about it, I decided to try out for the local flat track roller derby league!!!
What made me decide this, you ask?
Umm... a whim.
Someone told me a couple of weeks ago that there IS a local roller derby league, so I googled it, discovered that there was an informational meeting that coming Sunday for potential newbies, and immediately decided I was going to do it.
Never mind the fact that I've been on quad skates maybe 10 times total and the last time was probably 20 years ago, I was going to do roller derby and I was going to kick arse at it!!!!!
I immediately began diligent work on creating a roller derby name and researching entry level skates.
(I'm still deciding between Shreddy Ruxpin - #85 and Phenoma Blond - #007)
The informational meeting went great, the women there from the league seemed super nice and welcoming, and I was even MORE determined to be a Monterey Bay Derby Dame!!!
When the first opportunity to actually get on some roller skates finally came around the next weekend I couldn't be more excited or more nervous. I got the boyfriend and a couple we are good friends with to go with me, so I wouldn't be so scared, and just couldn't wait to step out on that floor. I was last in the group to put on my skates, but with everyone else so many years out from their last skating adventures and so confidently moving around the little putting on of the skates area, I was sure I'd be great.
And then I stood up.
I was not great.
Standing in those rental skates with such vivid memories of having them slide right out from underneath me as a kid was terrifying. I was like a baby giraffe on ice, and I wasn't even moving or off of the carpeted area yet.
I waved my friends away and assured them I just needed a minute to get used to the skates and would join them out on the floor. They all tore off a wee bit wobbly but quite confidently into the general flow of skaters... I nearly fell at least 47 times in the 5 foot trip from my chair to the entrance to the rink, and stepped gingerly out onto the tiles of the actual floor.
How did anybody manage to move around on these things? Who the hell thought putting wheels on shoes without any kind of device to keep you from tipping over backwards was a good idea? Couldn't I play roller derby on inline skates?
I dragged myself hand over hand along the wall, despairing.
In what conceivable universe was I going to be able to get from this state to trying out with just 3 Saturday evenings of open skate to practice in?
I'd never be a derby dame.
My dreams were crushed.
I wanted to cry!
And then the first turn came.
Those sadists had set up a little blocked off area at the end of the rink where people could practice things other than moving in a general counter clockwise direction, which meant I had to make it all the way across the vastyness of the hockey rink without a wall to clutch.
I was pretty sure I was going to die.
Or be run over by a mob of jeering 8 year olds on spiked skates and mad maxian garb and THEN die.
But death was, in any case, eminent.
I can do this.
One foot in front of the other in a general slidey type motion.
I can skate, I skated, I even owned a pair of neon pink roller blades with mint green buckles and orange wheels. Sure, I had to run into parked cars or signs to stop, but the going forward was never a problem. I know the mechanics, all these other people seem to be making it across this expanse unscathed. I don't see a single spiked skate in the vicinity.
Let's do this!!!
It wasn't pretty. I wobbled and almost fell several times, but I DIDN'T fall, and I kept going, and I MADE IT!!
I AM THE MASTER OF ROLLER SKATING!!!
And then this girl that I'm pretty sure was born with wheels on her feet whizzed right past me and did a nifty twirly maneuver to go with the music.
I was startled and distracted. I lost my balance, I was going down!!!
Thank goodness I'd made it to within clutching distance of the opposite wall!
Okay, so not quite the master of roller skating, but I wasn't QUITE despairing anymore.
But determined! I want this! I am going to find a way to make it happen for myself!! I am not going to let a little thing like being terrified of roller skating stop me!!
Half an hour or so later I was able to do 3 loops around the rink without touching the wall EVEN ONCE!! Sure, I was maybe 8 inches from it and going about the same speed as I would be walking, but I was doing it! I was skating!!
A few of the girls from the derby league had come in and were hanging out in the little sectioned off area, waiting to show new league hopefuls the basic skills needed to get into what they call "fresh meat" training.
Dear boyfriend came over and encouraged me to join in, but no way did I feel ready to work on anything but not falling down, was he crazy?!
I'll just go introduce myself....
I teetered over, and introduced myself, and explained that I was really just at the work on not falling down stage.
And to my amazement no one seemed even remotely surprised by that, or skeptical that I could be ready in time for try outs 3 weeks later.
Well alright then, show me all of the things!!!
And then something amazing happened.
I stopped concentrating so hard on not falling down, and started concentrating on learning some basic stops and how to cross my feet over eachother when turning.
When I stopped trying so hard not to fail, I did great!!
Sure, I ate it pretty hard a couple of times, but I ate it doing a pretty darn impressive cross-over if I do say so myself.
By the end of the night I was out on the rink skating at appropriate speeds, crossing my feet over eachother, weaving between slower skaters, I didn't have to look down at my feet.
I WAS SKATING!!
I WAS THE ROLLER SKATE MASTER!!!!!
My own skates came in the mail later that week, and the following Saturday I was doing all the basic moves necessary to make it into "fresh meat" well enough that they started teaching me NEW things, things they teach after one makes it into fresh meat.
By the end of my second Saturday night out on the rink I was able to keep up with the "real" derby girls and didn't fall once (other than when learning the correct way to fall and doing it on purpose, of course).
I stopped grasping at what seemed safe and familiar but kept me more or less stationary.
I stopped concentrating so hard on what was directly in front of my toes, blaming every little bump and warp in my path for my stumbles.
I stopped putting all of my effort into not failing.
I started doing things that felt new and awkward and scary.
I fell down, twice, and it HURT, but I got right back up and tried again.
I know I'm going to fall a lot more. I'm going to get some pretty impressive bruises, and it's going to hurt, and the things I learn will often seem difficult, even impossible at first, but I will learn them, and I will learn to be great!