From 1980 to 1984, I owned roller skates. My first pair was a blue-and-white pair without stoppers that were from Sears. I got them right after finishing fourth grade. Our parish had built a gorgeous new gym that could double as a skating rink. I was so uncoordinated, and those skates were scary, but after practicing on our gangway for days, I finally became good enough to go to skating at St. Eugene's (Fridays 7-10, Saturdays and Sundays 1-4; $1, but you needed to bring extra cash to buy a candy bar or a soda).
My second pair was a gym-shoe style skate, gray and blue. I quickly figured out how to learn the stoppers. I never could skate backward, but I could turn and stop.
The third was a more grown-up pair, black boot style. I think I got them before eighth grade, but I didn't use them as much as skating didn't seem as cool. I graduated grade school, so I wasn't really allowed to skate at St. Eugene's once in high school (not that I would have anyway). And I wasn't spending weekend nights at the Axle, the roller rink near us that eventually closed within two years. I outgrew the skates and hadn't put a pair since.
I put roller skates on again today, for the first time in at least 28 years. I was a co-oper/chaperone for the boys' field trip today to a roller rink/fun center, and the skates were free to use. I wasn't planning on skating. I feared hurting my left knee again that finally feels better. But a little part of me wanted to try.
After seeing some of the other parents and teachers who hadn't skated in years lace 'em up, I gave in to my recklessness. I wish I could say it was just like riding a bike and that I was skating proficiently right away. I wasn't even close. My center of gravity has shifted in the past three decades. The first few minutes were me just skating on the carpet around the rink. Eventually, I gained enough confidence to move to the floor.
The fun center has a second track with some obstacles to do stunts on, but also, walls to hold on to. I got a little better, though a couple small downhills freaked me out slightly. In time, I was able to actually skate rather than just move my legs in a walking motion to make the wheels go. Just as I felt I was getting it, the field trip was ending and it was time to go.
I survived. I only slightly fell once. But damn, this afternoon, I was sore, especially since yesterday, I did squats for the first time since I hurt my knee. And I forgot how much stress skating places on your ankles. No matter. I had fun and didn't get injured.