I used to skate around the empty rink on school days. While other children were in preschool, my mom homeschooled my brother and me for the first few years of our lives. When we weren’t learning Zoo-phonics, she would take us to our favorite kid hangouts. On Tuesdays, we went to Chuck E. Cheese, but Wednesdays were for skating.
From what I remember, I picked up roller skating pretty fast. In kindergarten, I was the kid who already knew how to skate on the school field trip. I didn’t need the walkers or my wheels tightened. In my six-year-old mind, I was a pro. I weaved my way through the masses of other children while bobbing along to Britney Spears’ “Oops, I Did It Again.”
I wanted to own a pair of skates, but my mom never thought they’d be worth the investment. I considered asking for them for my birthdays or Christmas, but by the time those holidays rolled around, something new caught my eye. Eventually, I got older, and sleepovers, dates and movie nights replaced my days at the skating rink. I put my dreams of owning skates to the side and embraced new activities as a sign of getting older.
That all changed when my roommates and I returned to Gainesville after Christmas break. One of my roommates received rollerblades for Christmas. We all flocked to the park for some fresh air. She used her rollerblades, another friend used her bike and my other roommate and I set out on foot. As I watched my friend make her way through the park trails, I realized that I wanted to glide over the ground, too.
When I got back home, I asked my mom about purchasing rollerblades. To be clear, I only knew how to skate on roller skates (the quad skates) and not rollerblades (in-lines). My mom asked if I was sure I wanted to try a whole different skate. I assured her I was eager to learn. After a few days of searching on Amazon, I purchased my skates, a helmet and some wrist guards. Then, I waited (not so patiently) for them to arrive.
The skates arrived a few days later. My roommates and I went to our complex’s outdoor basketball court to try them out. I put the skates on and scooted over to the nearby fence to help myself stand up. Balancing was easier than I’d expected. Within a few minutes, I was slowly making my way around the court. I got nervous whenever my wheels passed over a crack or a bump, but I managed to make It through that practice without face planting into the cement.
Later that week, my roommate and I took my skates out for another trial run. This time, we spent 30 minutes looping around our complex. I learned to balance quickly and pick up my speed when I wanted to. I did not learn to stop, though. At one point, a car was coming through an intersection, and I ran into the curb on purpose to stop myself before I reached the vehicle. I wish I could say I’ve learned to stop since then, but I haven’t.
I’ve used my skates several times since then. I like to whip them out for a morning exercise while I’m home. I’ll make my way down the winding road of my neighborhood and finish off at the hill where my house sits. It helps me close my exercise ring on my watch and get some sun and fresh air.
Rollerblading outdoors reminds me of the freedom I used to feel in the roller rinks when I was a child. The air blows, my mind is at ease and all I have to focus on is not falling. I’m glad that at 21, I was finally able to get what I dreamed of as a kid. While skating seemed like a way to show off when I was younger, now it’s just something I love to do in my free time when the weather’s nice. It gives me a break from the monotony of adulthood. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from buying roller blades, it’s that it’s okay if what we loved as children and what we love as adults are the same. Plus, it’s never too late to learn. I still need to learn how to stop while skating.