Last week’s post got me thinking about the hobbies; the activities that exercise your mind, body, and spirit.
With summer around the corner, I wonder:
How hard it is to pick up a hobby after a long hiatus?
Personally, I know it takes practice. I mean; I write, walk, and take pictures, but all of those activities have been constant endeavors for me. I keep up with the trends and technology where I rarely encounter a lapse. Or so I thought.
The other day, a friend mentioned to me that she’d taken up skating, the type of wheels—Rollerblades.
In a haze my brain shut down, re-booting with a barrage of teenage memories at the news. Rollerblading is special to me for personal reasons...
The dawn of Rollerblading emerged in the wonderfully weird 90’s, the decade in which I spent my teen years. A way for winter athletes to train year-round, the inline skate revolution was also like an evolution of quad roller skates; the neo-design seemingly specific to the culture of the time. Rollerblading belonged to the 90's and there appears to be a revival going on now.
|This could be the future, who knows?|
Roller skating in general was a breakthrough in the 60’s and 70’s— The image of James Caan in the movie ROLLERBALL springs to mind with a chuckle, but I can see how the sport could be projected onto a post-dystopian future a’ la THE RUNNING MAN. You can compare it to modern roller derby, which is badacle in its own right. There’s even a 90’s movie based on blading that hasn’t lost its awesome after almost twenty years.
Looking back, Rollerblading was all the rage by my junior year of high school, and it fit with collective ethos of the time. While all teenagers are rebels, I was a member of Generation X. It was the era of coffeehouse indie rock, clodhopper shoes, and pagers. A plaid button-down thrown over whatever you had on was the fashion staple (and still is today).
|Proof that dial up was once badass. (HACKERS movie)|
Laptops were the wave of the future as was dial-up internet, and rollerblades evolved from California boardwalk recreation to a hip, urban form of transport.
I wish a few of the trends would come back: Metallic jackets, skater Henley tees, layered tanks, and drawstring cargo pants.
|That's what I'm talkin' about..|
Back in the day, black and bright blue were my colors, and the transient 90’s fad of comic book neon and vinyl jackets were a dream come true.
|Imagine this in blue. Wild, right?|
I was grateful that the clothes were comfortable and the conversation was intellectual. A shy kid, it was enough of a struggle coming out of my shell during those delicate, ego-forming years. It was just me and my mom then, we had little money but a lot of love. Summers were a frugal time when I had to find ways to entertain myself on a budget, and hopefully expel some energy in the process. I'd worked part-time job at a pet store where I'd earned extra spending cash, and things were good.
A few weeks into June a friend from school started spending long periods of time at the paved lake near us, talking animatedly about how she’d gotten a pair of rollerblades. As so many things were novelty, I listened to her stories but dismissed the idea of participating, sure that this new roller sport had an egg-timers wait to obsolete. But shortly into our friend's foray into the blading life, my best friend also got a set of blades, the two going to the lake together every other day.
At first I didn’t mind much, I had work to keep me busy, and I really wasn’t the type who had to jump on every new trend. But June turned into July and I watched from a distance as the Rollerblading achieved all the goals for summer:
· Kept us out of trouble
· Social time together
· Outdoor workout
· Burned pent up energy
I tagged along one time on foot to see what all the hype was about. The lake had a paved path around it with a roller hockey rink. My friends would take a few laps around the water to warm up and then spend hours practicing tricks at the rink. After scouting it out I was intrigued. The problem was that Rollerblades, the professional kind, cost upwards of $200.00, a small fortune for a family of two.
So I put the idea on my mental back burner, not telling my mom, with the hopes that I’d eventually forget about it. July dragged on as my friends got better and better, and my want for blades hadn’t diminished. I eventually broke down and put aside some of my work money for a pair of non-name-brand skates which turned out to be a huge mistake. I'd paid $50.00 and rushed the cheapo pair home, my mom noticing my infatuation as I tried them on. The wheel frames were steel, not plexiglass, which made them heavy as hell and clunky. The next weekend when I tried the bad skates out, I trailed so far behind my friends that they thought they’d lost me. I got so many blisters on my feet that I had to sit at work the next day, and of course, once used I couldn’t return the skates to get my fifty bucks back.
It was disappointing. And to top it off, I began to wonder if it were me or the equipment that had failed.
After the bum attempt, I didn’t try to skate again, and as the summer came to a close my mom picked up on my lethargy. I caved and gave her a full disclosure of my issue. I was afraid to tell my mom because I knew that she’d do anything to get me a real pair of skates, and I didn't want her to stretch our already meager budget.
One Saturday, Mom and I visited the sports store up at the mall and perused the selection. That’s when I saw them for the first time. With all the stereotypical fanfare that accompanies divine intervention; the clouds parted, rays from heaven shining down on a pair of dark purple, name-brand Rollerblades. The box had a distinct dent on one side, the European sizing chart an exercise in translation, where a try-on was required to see if they fit.
They did. They were light and comfortable and…perfect.
Mom and I immediately took the skates to the layaway counter. I remember the sinking feeling in my chest as I reluctantly handed the box over to the store employee, as if I knew the parting was not “farewell for now” but “goodbye.”
Sure enough summer turned into fall and we couldn’t buy the skates. The time expired for the layaway and I avoided the sports store. I found evidence of my mom’s efforts to find a solution around our apartment; rollerblades circled in sales flyers, budgets written out on scrap pieces of paper.
My birthday passed in October as did Christmas, and I understood. It was too expensive, it couldn’t be done.
As I was my pre-New Age self then, I didn’t yet know about Creative Visualization but I’d utilized the primal form of the belief well—pining. I’d lay in bed and dream of how fast I’d be if I had those purple skates. I imagined how happy I’d be…
Winter made for a nice distraction because everyone was indoors, but I knew that spring would bring with it a little heartache, my purple skates surely sold to some lucky girl. February rolled around and one cold afternoon after work I wandered to the east side of the mall, a strange intuition luring me into the sports store. I walked in thinking I must be masochist, strolling past the Rollerblade racks. A flash of purple sitting under a sign that read “70% Off – Clearance” caught my eye, my neck cracking from the force of turning so fast.
My first response was It couldn’t be. The same skates COULD NOT still be here six months later.
I picked up the box, my fingertips finding the tell-tale dent in the side. I proceeded to have a happy-dance like seizure in the middle of the aisle. They were my skates, the same pair. Approaching the store clerk I learned that the skates were lost in the stock room after their return from layaway. As a clearance item they couldn’t be reserved again, but using every ounce of charm I had, I got the guy to make an exception and take the box off the floor for twenty-four hours while I rushed home. In an incoherent torrent I relayed the turn of events to my mom.
My blades were marked down, a total of $68.19 with tax.
My mom beamed a smile at me as she held up a rebate check that had come in the mail for $70.00.
I started to cry. Straight-up wept.
My mom had to take my arm and lead me to the car. We got to the store ten minutes before they closed. The checkout clerk looked at me like I was nuts as I clutched the box to my chest as if they’d have to surgically remove it in order to get to the barcode. I don’t recall the ride home at all, I was so excited.
I spent the following months learning about the skates, how to rocker the wheels for stunts, how to stop without the brake.
When May finally came I stood at the mouth of the trail, shifting my weight from left to right. There was one fleeting second where I thought, “What if I went through all this and I’m still no good?”
It was that moment when my friend said something like, “Going to keep up this time?”
I shot her an impish smile. Then I took off and never looked back.
That summer was the best of my life. I bladed every day, all day. I developed amazing tone in my legs and the overall cardio was incredible. I learned spins, jumps—all without a helmet.
As the saying goes, “Before you are old and wise you must first be young and stupid.” With the scars to prove it.
My beloved purple Rollerblades lasted me fifteen years before rain water from a leaky car trunk took them up to skate heaven.
To this day my mom and I refer to those blades as our miracle.
|Santa Monica Beach, CA - 2000|
So when my colleague told me about her new skates I must of gotten a faraway look on my face, the memories strong.
Summer is approaching again and everything feels like a repeat of the past. I need to watch my budget, but having fun is imperative, too.
Expel a little energy…
The first excuse I gave myself was that I’m too old, what if I can’t pick it back up again. But the very words make me a hypocrite.
Wasn’t it me that just last week spouted, “You’re never too old to try something new.” Or, "Old made new again."
Never limit yourself. Life is short.
Wear bright blue.
Pin your hair up in girly poofs.
Throw a plaid button down over your tank top and cutoffs.
Go out and BLADE.
With rogue thoughts rolling, I let out a sigh that was part surrender and part elation. I did my homework, checking out the features before adding them to my digital cart. After I checked out, I opened Outlook and started a new email to Rollerblade customer service.
|Shelley, Rebooted :)|
Subject Line: "How to rocker the wheels on a new pair of Macroblades"